Book drive will benefit Flint children

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published May 18, 2016

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SOUTHFIELD — A Southfield woman is organizing a book drive to benefit the children in her hometown of Flint May 16-June 17 at the Southfield Public Library, 26000 Evergreen Road.

Teresa Baker, founder of Brown Boy Brown Girl, said she began planning the drive before the Flint water crisis garnered national attention.

“When I heard children had been exposed to lead, I thought, ‘We do need to push this forward,’” Baker said. “Children need clean water, nutritional food, and education to promote brain growth and development. Because I am from Flint — I have family and friends in Flint. It’s a way for me to give back to my community.”

Flint changed its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River in April 2014. In 2015, monitoring efforts uncovered elevated blood lead levels in the city’s residents. Of the more than 2,600 residents tested, 50 were found to have elevated blood lead levels, with 28 of those children under the age of 6. Genesee County issued a “do not drink” advisory to residents in October 2015.

President Obama declared a state of emergency Jan. 16.

Brown Boy Brown Girl is an organization aimed at bettering lives and empowering children, Baker said.

The goal of the book drive is not only to gather at least 1,000 books for children, but also to inspire children to hold their own book drives to contribute to the effort.

Baker, a wife and mother of three young children, said the organization began as a way to show her children they can succeed.

“We want to empower children, especially minority children. It’s OK to be brown and it’s OK to shine. Just be great in what you do,” Baker said. “We see children in a community that has been devastated and already been economically depressed, and now we have (the water crisis) on top of that.”

Cindy Cares, youth services programmer at the library, said the library has to carefully consider each proposal for events at the library, but officials felt the book drive was a good fit.

Earlier this year, state Rep. Jeremy Moss and Goodman Acker PC held a water drive at the library to benefit Flint residents.

“We allowed Ms. Baker to collect book donations here because we know how strongly this community is committed to helping the people of Flint, as was evidenced when Jeremy Moss collected bottled water here and the response was overwhelming,” Cares said. “The library is committed to children and reading everywhere, and we hope that this book collection will help bring that to some children who really are in need.”

Books can be dropped off in the youth department of the library, Baker said.