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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Barbershop Employees Step In to Help Jersey City Eatery During Covid Quarantine

Barbershop Employees Step In to Help Jersey City Eatery During Covid Quarantine

There is no denying the restaurant industry has been hard hit during the pandemic. One Jersey City eatery saw their neighbors step in when they were dealt with another blow. Würstbar had a staff member exposed to the virus and rather than running risk of spreading the disease, the management decided the best course of action was to shut down—at least temporarily. But their neighbors at Virile Barber Shop swooped in to help after seeing their post about the temporary close.

They posted on their Instagram page “No, we are not randomly closed for ‘renovations!’ We unfortunately, had an exposure to COVID-19 at Würstbar. Würstbar is a small team run by an extremely hardworking and loyal staff. Running the restaurant with only non-exposed employees isn’t an option for us at the moment. We decided as a team that we would close until every employee exposed or not has been tested and can return to work confident in their safety, and equally as important, our guests’ safety. Thank you to @hdsid_jc and Prestige Health Mobile for getting the entire staff tested so quickly. We look forward to serving you soon.”

Word of Würstbar’s crew quarantine quickly made the rounds of the tight-knit community and in less than 24 hours, workers from Virile Barber Shop just up the street stepped up, offering to lend a hand by taking shifts to keep Würstbar open for business until the impacted staff members could all be tested and cleared.
“The weather is too nice out to let our neighbors at Würstbar stay closed!” Virile Barber Shop owner Andre Fersa posted. “I’ve taken over the bar and am selling PRETZELS, beer, wine and cider for outdoor seating only. Come on by and support this great staff.”

As expected, the grateful Würstbar staff was soon singing the praises of the generous community volunteers who’d pitched in to keep their doors open. “A big thank you to the crew at @virile for taking over Würstbar yesterday, that was a blast! We love this community and couldn’t ask for better neighbors. Let’s not forget barbershops and salons were hit just as hard as restaurants during the shutdown. With so many people home from the office and big events not happening it’s easy to skip a cut here and there. If you have the means, please get that extra cut and look your best for your Zoom call or socially distanced gathering.”

Fersa and his friend, Joe Mercurio, got a quick crash course and soon enough Wurstbar was open for business. There were no tables inside, no cocktails, and their typically large menu of brats, sausages, hot dogs and poutine was pared down to just hot pretzels. But from noon until around 6 p.m. on Saturday, Fersa and Mercurio ran the show with Kahn supervising. Neighborhood locals got word that Virile was taking over Wurstbar for the day and came out to support the business, with outdoor tables packed throughout the day. The Kitchen Step, another Jersey Avenue restaurant, offered to send help if they needed it and bought a bunch of hot pretzels to feed their staff.

Kahn has tried to be optimistic as possible throughout the pandemic, but admits the positive COVID-19 test knocked him down. The bar was closed from Nov. 8 until Nov. 12, until all the employees tested negative. But Fersa stepping up to help out, even for just one day, rejuvenated him. “I didn’t feel that feeling of defeat anymore. I felt like, ‘I’ve got this.’ It kind of revived me, like we’ll get through this closure. I felt like I needed that,” Kahn said. “Andre stepping in and helping me out really just brought me back.”

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Couple Loans Cottage To Single Dad During Pandemic

Couple Loans Cottage To Single Dad During Pandemic

Families around the globe have had to adjust to the stresses of the pandemic and it’s always comforting to hear of instances of people helping one another during this unprecedented time. When a single dad in England, Sam Smith, appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show to talk about what it’s like to be confined in a very small living area during the pandemic, Ken and Sheila Sims decided to help.

Everyone has faced challenges during the pandemic but many don’t realize there are families with children out there who are living in small spaces with little to no space to run around. Since lockdown began in England, Sam Smith, 6-year-old Lysander and 3-year-old Zenduel, have been confined to their one-bed apartment on the 15th floor of a high-rise in East London. During the interview, Smith described what it was like sometimes being confined in the apartment 23 hours a day with just 12 steps from one side of the main room to the other—and with local parks closed.

Ken and Sheila Sims were watching the interview from their home on the Devon coast. Ken grew up in a high-rise apartment building as a young boy, and felt especially saddened seeing the difficulties the Smiths were going through. Ken knew all too well the challenges of growing up in a small apartment but he didn’t have to live through a pandemic. Luckily, he knew just how to help and he wasted no time in offering the Smiths a week at their cottage on the English seaside so the family would have some space to play, explore and run.

Sam immediately said yes to the offer and he was touched by the kindness of strangers. “I can’t find the words… ” Sam said at the beach on his family’s Devon vacation. Motioning at the sky and water all around him, at his young sons making sandcastles, he exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!”

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on TX Animal Sanctuary Connects Children & Animals With Special Needs

TX Animal Sanctuary Connects Children & Animals With Special Needs

A family owned Texas animal sanctuary has launched a program for children with special needs to visit and bond with rescued animals who are also special needs. Safe in Austin is the brainchild of Jamie Wallace-Griner after she observed the interaction between her autistic son and his service dog, Angel. The current menagerie numbers 20 dogs, 14 cats, eight horses, 32 goats, four rabbits, three tortoises, one parrot, four turkeys, numerous chickens, 18 pigs, and four cows.

Over the years, as the ranch has been rehabbed, the population has grown to include chickens, pigs, and goats, many of whom have special needs. “We have animals that are blind or deaf, have diabetes, cerebral palsy, deformities, missing limbs, broken spines … they all become part of our family. Once they are healthy enough and we have earned their trust; we introduce our rescues to children that come from similar backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and/or special needs. Our animals provide healing to trauma, at-risk, and/or special needs children by way of unconditional friendship and a clear, loving, example of what they are looking for most… hope” said Wallace-Griner.

As with their rescued animals, humans of all shapes, sizes, and descriptions are welcome at the sanctuary. “We don’t care about the choices you made in the past, what you look like, who you love, or what you eat. We concentrate on no judgment at all. Our goal is to offer a place of healing and happiness that is available to everyone. Visits and events are affordable, fun, worry free, and are guaranteed to touch your heart! Safe in Austin is a judgment free zone! Autism has taught us that nothing is black and white, and everyone has a story. We just want you to meet our babies, take some of their love, and share it with others!” Wallace-Griner said.

Prior to COVID-19, Safe in Austin was open to members of the public who toured the sanctuary led by volunteer guides. The pandemic meant enacting safety restrictions, which limited the number of guests that could be safely accommodated. The sanctuary has since made the switch to pre-arranged private family and small-group tours. Having to adapt to change and challenge is all part of the process and Wallace-Griner remains positive. She sees Safe in Austin as a work in progress, never losing sight of the sanctuary’s ultimate goals of healing, acceptance, and unconditional love.
Having to adapt to change and challenge is all part of the process and Wallace-Griner remains positive. She sees Safe in Austin as a work in progress, never losing sight of the sanctuary’s ultimate goals of healing, acceptance, and unconditional love.

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Single Foster Dad Adopts 5 Siblings To Keep Them Together

Single Foster Dad Adopts 5 Siblings To Keep Them Together

Single foster dad Robert Carter decided to adopt an entire brood of five siblings to keep them together. Carter, 29, spent years in the Ohio foster care system himself so he knew only too well what it was like to lose touch with loved ones. He entered the system at age 12 and wasn’t reunited with his younger sister and brother until years later when they were teens. Carter was emancipated and granted custody of a younger sister and guardianship of a younger brother, he said. The emotional trauma of the experience fueled his desire to shield other kids from similar distress and provide them with a safe home.

Prior to the adoption, Carter was already fostering the three brothers and the two sisters were each being fostered in separate homes. When he arranged for the girls and their foster moms to meet up so the children wouldn’t lose touch with one another, he realized how distressed they all were at the end of the visit and he knew there was only one course of action. The children Carter adopted are Marionna, 10, Robert, 9, Makayla, 8, Giovanni, 5, and Kiontae, 4.

Carter became a licensed foster parent in 2017 and the three boys, Robert, Giovanni and Kiontae were placed with him in December 2018. The siblings, who he said came from a neglectful home, were reunited after not seeing each other for six months. “Once I did find out they had sisters, that’s when I started to advocate to set up visitations.” Carter said. Marionna and Makayla were later placed in Carter’s home with their brothers.

Caseworker Stacey Barton said “Mr. Carter was the only foster parent willing and able to adopt all of the children and his childhood background has made him aware of the importance of keeping siblings together. He says that he enjoys being their father and that parenting them is easier than he could have ever imagined. His life is busy, with a lot of love, laughter and loudness. I have enjoyed working with him and witnessing the children bond as siblings.”

Carter said he was the third oldest of the nine kids in his own family and he took on a parenting role before he entered foster care. “I was the parent figure and was the one trying to feed my siblings and going out trying to find food to eat.” Carter said he sees a lot of himself in Marionna, the oldest, “She’s the mother figure to the kids,” he explained. “But I won’t even let her make them a bowl of cereal now because that’s not her responsibility. She’s done it for too long when she shouldn’t have had to in the first place.”

With all the attention his family’s story is getting, he wants people to know how important fostering and adoption are. “Just the fact that they’re together, the fact that they have something that will help them remember their past… It’s beautiful to watch them grow up together and make memories together. As long as you have the means and love to give to kids, then anybody can do it,” he said. Right now, Carter is concentrating on earning his children’s trust and assuring them. “Every night, I talk to them and let them know, ‘I’m your dad forever. I know what it’s like, and I’m always here for you.’”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.

In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”

The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.

Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.

Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.

“Never did I imagine that the store’s financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Texas Mom Starts GoFundMe For Man Who Saved Her Daughter

Texas Mom Starts GoFundMe For Man Who Saved Her Daughter

A family out of Texas is hoping to repay a California man who they say helped save their 10-year-old child after she was caught in a rip current. On August 15th, ten-year-old Hayley Whiting and her family were enjoying a day at the beach on the last day of their vacation. Hayley was playing in the waves when she got caught in a riptide and was quickly being pulled deeper out to sea.

Her mother Samantha tried swimming out to save her daughter “I had her on my back, but it was slowly taking both of us down.” The two started screaming for help, which is when Kevin Cozzi, who was at the beach with his fiance, came to the rescue. “I’ve been swimming since I was three years old competitively, so I felt like I could get to them. I ran out there and as soon as I got to the mom, I knew she was struggling,” Cozzi said. Cozzi was able to reach Haylee and brought her closer to shore until a lifeguard jumped in.

After the heroic rescue, the parted ways. Months went by and Samantha only knew Cozzi’s first name and that he lived in Merced but she never stopped looking for the heroic bystander. It was only when she posted about the rescue in a local California Facebook group called Merced Neighborhood Watch that the two were reconnected within hours. Samantha set up a GoFundMe account and is now working to raise $50,000 to give Cozzi and his fiancé their dream wedding.
Cozzi and his fiancée had to postpone their wedding because of the coronavirus pandemic, so the Whitings decided to launch the GoFundMe to help them. So far, they are halfway there in just over a week. He is thankful for their fundraiser, but told ABC30, “That girl being saved was enough for me.”

Samantha and Haylee are grateful for Cozzi and plan to thank him again in person as they attend his wedding next fall. “If it wasn’t for him risking his life in such a selfless act, I would have lost not only my own life but my baby girl,” Samantha wrote on the fundraiser. “I want to raise money for Kevin and his fiancé to have their dream wedding and honeymoon… Lord knows he deserves so much more than this.” Hayley has one message for her rescuer. “Thank you so much and you were really brave to come out there,” she told KFSN. “He’s probably one of the biggest heroes I’ve ever met.” Cozzi happened to be in the right place at the right time to help the Whiting’s avoid tragedy and now their efforts along with the kindness of strangers is helping pay forward his bravery.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Michael Jordan Opens 2nd Clinic In Charlotte NC

Michael Jordan Opens 2nd Clinic In Charlotte NC

One year after the first Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic opened its doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jordan and his partner Novant Health have opened a second facility. The North End facility has the same goal of providing vital access to primary and preventive care to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. Like with the original medical clinic in west Charlotte, which was built with a generous $7 million grant from Michael Jordan, the new one also offers behavioral health and social support services—addressing health equity gaps further exacerbated by COVID-19.
Carl Armato, CEO and president of Novant Health said “Michael Jordan’s commitment to improving the health of our communities, and society, is deep-rooted. The impact of the first clinic has been measurable and if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of having accessible, safe, and quality care in communities that need it most.”

In its first year, the first clinic on Freedom Drive had seen more than 3,350 patients, including more than 450 children. Of those, nearly 700 patients were assisted by the clinic’s full-time social worker with nearly 80 patients being referred for additional behavioral health care. In April, when the clinic transitioned into a respiratory assessment center to meet the communities’ needs for accessible coronavirus screening, testing, treatment and education, they completed 12,584 appointments and performed nearly 14,000 COVID-19 tests.

Jordan said “When we came together to mark the first clinic’s opening last fall, no one could have predicted we would be facing a global pandemic just five months later. I’m so proud of the positive impact our clinic has had on the community so far, especially during COVID-19. Our second clinic will provide critical services to improve the health and lives of more Charlotteans, which is so important to me and to Novant Health.”

Both clinics provide integrative services that includes primary care, behavioral health and social support services. Every patient is screened based on social determinants of health such as how a patient’s socioeconomic status and environment affect their overall health. The 6,800-square-foot clinic at 2701 Statesville Ave. in Charlotte is the same size as the first clinic with 12 exam rooms, an X-ray room and physical therapy space. Both clinics service patients of all ages and thousands of uninsured have already been helped by his efforts, and thousands more will be in the years to come.

Jordan grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, and went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets since 2010. A lack of health care is a major issue affecting millions of people in this country, and Jordan is doing his part to directly address the needs of those less fortunate than him.

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Fourteen Year Old Named America’s Top Young Scientist For Work On Potential Covid 19 Cure

Fourteen Year Old Named America’s Top Young Scientist For Work On Potential Covid 19 Cure

A 14-year-old girl from Texas has discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Eighth grader Anika Chebrolu has been named the winner of the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge—America’s premier middle school science competition. She received a $25,000 gift for her award-winning work and a one-of-a-kind 2 day/1-night destination trip.

The Young Scientist Challenge is a youth science and engineering competition administered by Discovery Education and 3M for middle school students in the United States. Students apply by creating a 1-2 minute video detailing their idea for a new invention intended to solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists are chosen annually to work alongside a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship and receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, to compete for $25,000 and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.

Anika’s winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target. As part of her research, Anika screened millions of small molecules for drug-likeness properties, ADMET properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein using numerous software tools. The one molecule with the best pharmacological and biological activity towards the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was chosen as the lead molecule that can be a potential drug for the effective treatment of COVID-19.

Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. She was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.

“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said. “Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, Dr. Mahfuza Ali, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

Anika said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done. Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus. Chebrolu also received the “Improving Lives Award,” according to a release from Frisco ISD.

“I am extremely humbled at being selected America’s Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals,” Anika said in the Frisco release. “Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go to understand it fully.” While she hopes to be a medical researcher and professor in the future, she is already doing grown-up work and inspiring a generation to reach for the stars.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Tyler Perry Being Honored For Generosity

Tyler Perry Being Honored For Generosity

Actor and producer Tyler Perry is being recognized for his work in entertainment, commitment to supporting charities and for “inspiring empathy and progress for humankind.” The renowned philanthropist will be honored with “The People’s Champion of 2020” award at the E! People’s Choice Awards. Perry has made history on multiple accounts, from opening the largest privately owned motion-­picture studio in the U.S. to receiving a slew of prestigious accolades for his work including being named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

After making history becoming the first African-American to own a major film studio outright, opening Tyler Perry Studios last year, he announced plans to build a shelter for disadvantaged youth and homeless women to be located on the new 330-acre film studio property in Atlanta, Georgia. Perry’s generosity has been unwavering for over a decade. He has been intimately involved and donated generously to civil rights and human rights causes. Perry also strongly supports charities serving the homeless, including Feeding America, Global Medical Relief Fund, and Covenant House, among others.

In 2009, Perry gave the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People a $1 million dollar gift to celebrate the historic nonprofit’s centennial. The financial blessing made history at the time on its own as the largest individual donation from an artist the organization has ever received. After the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, Perry jumped into action. He pledged $250,000 to help the island recover, then raised his own total and promised an additional $750,000 to make it a cool million. His charity reportedly inspired others to give hundreds of thousands of dollars as well.

Aside from supporting many charitable organizations, he has helped others during hard times. In 2010, while watching the news, Perry heard about 88-year-old Atlanta resident Rosa Lee Ransby and her 4-year-old great-granddaughter escaping from a house fire that destroyed the home she owned for 40+ years. He met with her and rented her a fully furnished home on the same street, paying all utilities as well. He then built her a new home where the old one burned down.

Perry worked with and featured gospel singer LaShun Pace’s music in many of his films. In 2018, when he heard Pace’s mother’s health was ailing and that she always dreamed of owning a home large enough for the whole family to live in, Perry purchased her a $350,000 home not far from Atlanta where the Pace family grew up. Bettie Ann Pace died in July 2020 but the last years of her life she was living her dream thanks to Perry’s kindness.
His generosity became known worldwide during the Christmas season of 2018. Perry paid off $430,000 of layaway items at the East Point and Douglasville Walmart stores prior to Christmas 2018. It was the holiday gift that was talked about around the world and he was labeled “Tyler Claus”. Perry had attempted to do the good deed anonymously, but later was outed as the ‘Secret Santa’.

This year, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, he supported his local community by picking up the tab for all groceries purchased during senior shopping hour at 73 supermarkets in both Atlanta and his hometown off New Orleans. He also purchased grocery store gift cards for police to hand out to Atlanta communities’ in-need. He also left a $21,000 tip to 42 out-of-work servers at his favorite local restaurant in Atlanta. Perry’s generosity and random acts of kindness run far and wide throughout the world and he uses his platform to encourage others to follow his lead. He also became one of the first filmmakers to safely resume filmmaking amid the COVID-19 pandemic by creating “Camp Quarantine” on the Tyler Perry Studios lot in Atlanta, GA, effectively getting his staff back to work.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on James Patterson Giving Grants to Teachers

James Patterson Giving Grants to Teachers

Thousands of schoolteachers will receive $500 grants from author James Patterson to help students build reading skills, especially as schools struggle to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. Patterson has donated $2.5 million through his Patterson Partnership program with Scholastic Book Clubs. The grant program which is administered by Patterson and by Scholastic Book Clubs, which will provide teachers 500 club points to go with the $500 from Patterson. Out of more than 100,000 applicants, 5,000 teachers will receive grants and club points.

“Whether students are learning virtually at home or in the classroom, the importance of keeping them reading cannot be underscored enough. Reading teaches kids empathy, gives them an escape when they most need it, helps them grapple with harsh realities, and perhaps most importantly, will remind them that they are not alone — even if they’re unable to see their teachers, classmates and friends in-person,” Patterson said in a statement.

Funds from the Patterson Partnership are awarded directly to individual teachers and are to be used solely for the purchase of books for classroom libraries. Winning teachers had the choice of either a direct deposit into their Scholastic Book Clubs account or a check sent via USPS. The 500 Bonus Points will also be directly deposited into winning teachers’ Book Club accounts. This is the sixth year Patterson Partnership has issued the grants through its’ partnership with Scholastic Book Club.

Patterson, one of the world’s best-selling novelists, has given more than $11 million to teachers, along with millions he has given to bookstores, libraries and literacy organizations. This is the sixth installment in the Patterson Partnership for building home and school libraries. He has been donating and campaigning for donations for several years.

Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, added, “Teachers are always at the front lines of educating all our children and introducing them to books and reading—no matter what else is going on in the world. As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, the hard work and dedication of America’s teachers—and what is demanded of them—cannot be overstated.”
In April 2020, Patterson helped launch a campaign to save independent booksellers, an industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign called #SaveIndieBookstores, is a partnership between Patterson, actress Reese Witherspoon’s book club, the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Patterson personally contributed $500,000 to that campaign and called for fellow authors and book fans to join him in making donations to the fund.

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