SELCO Community Credit Union Collects and Refurbishes 1,100 Children’s Books to Benefit SMART Reading

To celebrate World Book Day on April 23, Oregon-based SELCO Community Credit Union announced that it collected 1,100 new and lightly used children’s books—and 33 SELCO employees volunteered to sort and clean many of them—during its recent book drive benefiting SMART Reading, a statewide children’s literacy nonprofit. The book drive and cleaning event, part of the SELCO Steps Up community giving program, was held March 11-29 at 12 SELCO locations in Burns, Central Oregon, and Lane County.

Now in its second year, the book drive asked SELCO employees and credit union members to drop off new or slightly used books, all of which will be distributed by SMART Reading to help local children build their home libraries. SELCO employees also sorted and cleaned each used book so they are donated in the very best possible condition.

According to SMART Reading, which SELCO has partnered with since 1996, early literacy is a crucial part of children’s formative education, and book drives such as SELCO’s aim to promote that educational link. Research shows that having 25 books in a household produces an average of two additional years of total educational achievement.

“Ensuring children have access to books in early childhood is vital to the development of their reading skills,” said Jessica Bowersox, Executive Director of SMART Reading. “Through partnerships like this one with SELCO, we’ve given away tens of thousands of books across the state in the 2023-24 academic year alone.”

SELCO’s combined book drive and cleaning event started in Lane County in 2023, and it was enormously popular amongst the credit union’s team members. As part of the new SELCO Steps Up initiative, the program was expanded this year to include branches in Bend, Redmond, and Burns, proving equally popular in those areas.

The results in each market include:

  • 687 donated books at SELCO’s Eugene and Springfield locations. Those books will be donated to a series of free book fairs with the 4J School District’s BEST After School Program and Burrito Brigade’s Waste-to-Taste food pantry.
  • The Burns branch collected 283 books (including 52 from Chandra Worman, a former Mrs. Oregon), the most of any single branch that participated in the book drive.
  • Branches in Bend and Redmond collected 130 books.

“This was an all-hands effort, and we couldn’t be more proud to support the work of SMART Reading to get books in the hands of young readers,” said Olivia Sorensen, Senior Community Development Specialist for SELCO. “SELCO was founded by educators almost a century ago, so our partnership with SMART Reading is a perfect fit. We’ve seen firsthand the incredible value a child gets from owning their own books. Is there anything better than getting lost in a story from a book that is all yours? Not a chance!”


Posted in Community Impact, Oregon, Regional Member News.