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The San Diego Book Project has been Supplying IB's Children with Books for years and is in Need of Your Help

Jan 03, 2016 08:36PM ● By Paul Spear

This article is made possible in part to an article done in the San Diego Union Tribune which can be read in full at the above link.

The San Diego Book Project, located in San Diego's East Village, has been Helping Imperial Beach for years through the gift of Books to any non-profit organization that requests them. Imperial Beach and more specifically the Children of Imperial Beach have been big Beneficiary of their project. Now due to a big rent hike The San Diego Book Project is in Danger of Closing and in need of our help!.

 At many of our events in Imperial Beach you will see a table set up similar to the one above at the Feed the Kids and Family Event held at the Boys and Girls Club this last Thanksgiving. This has been made possible by two different non-profit groups. The first I am mentioning is the South Bay Union School district Education Foundation that is the beneficiary of the San Diego Book Project (SDUSDEF). The SDUSDEF has been giving out children s books at all sorts of events around Imperial Beach for many years now. These book have been available to them because of the work done by the San Diego Book Project which is located in the East Village of San Diego and is the child of Founders Mark and Terry Meaney. 

Not oly is the SDUSDEF passing these books out to children, so are the Imperial Beach South Bay Kiwanis at some of their events and I wouldn't be surprise is other local organizations are doing the same.

Dana Tomlinson of the SDUSDEF has a very good relation with the San Diego Book Project and she is often picking up books for these other organizations like the Kiwanis I mentioned.

The SDUSDEF is in danger of closing down if they don't get more involvement from adults in their organization. Right now everyone of the 9 spots they have available on their board is filled by a teacher or someone in the educational field. Per Dana, if they don't get more involvement by parents, they will be shutting down at the end of the year.

Here are excerpts of the article that the above link at the top of the page will take you to as we learn about the people who have made it all possible for all of the books to be able to be given out to the children in Imperial Beach.

If the nonprofit run by Mike and Terry Meaney was a book, you could shelve it with mysteries or inspirational stories. But without the help of some white knights very soon, the La Jolla couple’s small but mighty charity won’t have a happy ending.

The Meaneys are the co-founders and underwriters of the San Diego Book Project, an all-volunteer program that since 2007 has given away more than 700,000 books to local schools, veterans and homeless groups, retirement homes, hospitals, jails, relief agencies and literacy programs, as well as book-starved villages around the world.

The project has earned the gratitude of more than 800 San Diego school teachers and has been honored with local and national literacy awards. But it’s largely unknown to the general public and has struggled to find financial and volunteer aid.

With a huge rent hike looming on the group’s East Village warehouse, the Meaneys and their volunteers are worried whether the San Diego Book Project will survive. (article continues below photo)


The Meaneys have different taste in books. He prefers nonfiction and she likes thrillers and detective fiction. But one thing they’re united on is their belief that books change lives. Terry, 66, is a retired grade-school teacher who saw how books improved the class work and self-esteem of her inner-city students. Mike, 69, is a criminal and court-appointed defense attorney whose often-illiterate clients struggle to find legitimate work.

“We’ve seen it firsthand on both ends,” Terry said. “I see it with the children and he sees it in his cases. Our goal is to take this knowledge and meet somewhere in the middle to improve the literacy rate.”

Their anecdotal evidence is borne out by numerous studies that show 85 percent of youth in the juvenile court system, and more than 60 percent of all prison inmates, are functionally illiterate. The problems begin early. Two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

The idea for San Diego Book Project arose nearly 10 years ago, when Terry noticed that many of her fourth-graders at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Barrio Logan couldn’t afford books. So she reached out to Ted Kehoe and Don Brown, who co-own the online bookseller Abookheaven, and they agreed to give her their unsold children’s book inventory.

Before long, the books overwhelmed the Meaneys’ home and they rented a storage locker. Two of their three sons still living at home joined in the project by sorting and delivering books to other teachers. Eventually, they rented a 1,200-square-foot sliver of the basement in the Jerome’s furniture warehouse at 15th and F streets, and with their own money — about $16,000 a year for rent and insurance — and a handful of volunteers, they launched the San Diego Book Project.

Over the years, Abookheaven has continued to supply books, and many more have come in from library “friends” groups, literacy programs and private donations. The books are loaded into oversize produce bins and sorted by subject into shelves and boxes.

Magazines, condensed books and dated materials can’t be used, but virtually everything else will find a home. Paperbacks are saved for veterans and homeless outreach groups. Bibles go to faith-based charities. Spanish-language books are especially prized for shipments to Central and South American countries by the Rotary Club. And the dictionaries and thesauruses are a gold mine for teachers like Dana Tomlinson, who gives the reference books to each of her sixth-graders at Emory Elementary School in Imperial Beach.

“It’s amazing how much children love books,” Tomlinson said. “Even though they’re surrounded by high-tech stuff nowadays, when I get out boxes of books, everyone gets excited. I don’t know what it is about books, but people love them. We’re just trying to foster a love for books so they’ll pass it down to their own kids someday.”

 Although Terry retired last July, her husband and the organization’s other volunteers work full-time, so they sort and box books on nights and weekends. On Sunday afternoon, the Meaneys quietly pored through a bin of new arrivals. Some books are new, like a drawing kit with pencils Terry set aside for an artistic fourth-grader at her old school. Others are cherished heirlooms, like a storybook with a penned inscription or a crumbling 1907 compendium of Moore’s “1 Million Industrial Facts.” There’s a box of Japanese-language poetry, a shelf of CliffsNotes, sports biographies, science fiction, celebrity tomes and mass-market novels.

The warehouse isn’t open to the public. School teachers and advocates apply to visit through the website On the first Saturday of each month, from 80 to 100 people line up at the warehouse with bags and boxes. About 5,000 books are given away each month. Two-year volunteer Nira Clark said it’s addictive digging through the stacks and finding special titles to take to schools, disabled adults and nursing home patients near her Jamul neighborhood.

“It’s very fun. You have the feeling you’re treasure hunting when you dig through these pallets and find something that will bring joy to someone,” said Clark, a zoology professor at Southwestern College. “It’s such a wonderful thing to put these books in the hands of kids, because having a book of their own is a keystone in their lives. Mike and Terry are humanitarians who are footing the bill for it all and it would be a tragedy to see it go away.”

Since its start, the Book Project has been fortunate to pay below-market rent, but a recent change in landlords means the rent will nearly triple in February. The Meaneys would like to find a cheaper warehouse. They desperately needs donations, volunteers and a van for deliveries.

Tomlinson hopes a few donors come forward to ensure the project’s survival.

“Mike and Terry are wonderful, generous people who have put in thousands of hours of their time and so much of their money to provide a service that benefits thousands and thousands of people,” she said. “But they’re often on the edge of not being able to go on, so we need some benefactors soon.”                     



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