In October of last year I received an email about the Rockstar Finance 2018 Community Giving Event and immediately knew I would apply. If you aren’t familiar with the event I’ll give you the quick run down. At the end of the year Rockstar Finance planned to give away fifty-two Amazon and Visa gift cards ranging from $25 to $100 each.

In 2017 I think they gave away gift cards to the first folks who asked, but in 2018 they asked the blogging community to submit their charitable ideas. Each gift card was intended to be used “to bless others,” so this wasn’t a giveaway for those who received the gift card, but rather a giveaway to give away.

Just weeks before the Rockstar Finance announcement I began dreaming of a way to involve my seven year old in random acts of holiday kindness. We planned to write special notes for his teachers and bake cookies for the neighbors and other such things, but I wanted to do something really rewarding and unique.

My family is unbelievably blessed and I think it’s important for my children to understand that we have the capacity to help other people who may be in need. We buy staples that others can eat and we prepare meals for the homeless various times throughout the year.

We also focus on kindness. We hold the doors open for others and say thank you when doors are opened for us. We smile each morning when we greet our friends, neighbors and teachers and say “good morning.” If someone is hungry outside of a local restaurant we won’t hand them money but we will offer to buy them a meal. We also provide fruit and crackers to men, women and children carrying signs in between busy streets near our home.

We perform many small acts of kindness throughout the year, but I wanted to do something extra special and meaningful with my son this winter. I wanted my son and I to spread the love of reading and books to those in need.

Staring at my children’s overflowing bookshelves it’s hard to believe that a book-free home may be the reality for over 16 million children living in poverty, but two-thirds of our nation’s impoverished children don’t have a single book to call their own.

Children who have access to books can bend and twist their imaginations. They can visit new places and see unimaginable things. Books inspire us to learn and to dream. The impossible is entirely possible in printed words and pictures and every child should have access to a book of their own.

Long before my first child was born I bought children’s books and kept them on a shelf in the basement and when I packed my hospital bag in preparation of my child’s birth the very first item I packed was a book. Hours after my son was born I held him in my lap and read the book Corduroy to him.

I love everything about reading to my kids. I love the weight of their tiny bodies leaning against my chest and lap. I love the way they point at the pictures and ask questions about the things they see. I love how they can memorize the words long before they can read and how they choose favorites and request the same stories day after day. Even now there is nothing I love better than sitting on the couch reading with my children. We are so close I can hear them breathe and relax as they listen to a story beside me. Every child should feel this closeness and love.

The Rockstar Community Event gave me the extra incentive to put my charitable idea in motion. I filled out the form and was over the moon to be chosen to participate in this year’s event.

I know there are many amazing programs out there like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, but I wanted to do our part to buy and distribute books locally this holiday season. So I came up with a plan.

I looked up book prices on Amazon and found that even the cheapest books cost $4 to $5. That’s when I remembered that every month a handful of books go on sale at Scholastic Book Clubs for $1. I filled out the Rockstar Finance form and requested a Visa gift card so I could buy the most books for the cheapest price.

A few weeks later John from ESI Money sent me a shiny $50 gift card. I logged on to the Scholastic book club website and ordered as many $1 books as I could find. I wanted to provide a variety of options including books for a wide-range of ages. I searched online for coupon codes and found two that worked. I bought 50 books for $50 and received two extra books for free, which means at least 52 children can receive a book of their own.

I was so excited I checked out without changing my credit card information. I completely forgot to use the gift card John sent me and ended up buying the books with my own money!

I originally planned to give the books to our local library’s kid’s reading program, but it’s more difficult than you would think to provide books this way. The library couldn’t verify how many books they might need. They wanted to make certain they had a book for each child, but they don’t know in advance how many children may attend an event. So the library wouldn’t work.

It just so happens that someone requested books in my local list serve. I offered our books, but they wanted specific titles, so that didn’t work either.

Eventually I found out that a school in our community hosts a free book sale every May. Parents and teachers recognized the need to send students home with books during the summer, but they also realized that most parents in our school district couldn’t afford to buy them. The solution: a free book sale where each student can pick out at least one new or like-new book for free!

So now we finally have a place to send our books and I love the idea of buying these books so much that I’ve been ordering $1 books from Scholastic ever since. I even signed up to receive an email notification every time a new $1 book is added. (You have to add the $1 books within a certain time frame or the price jumps back up.) We will have a HUGE pile of books to give away by the end of the school year!

Thank you Rockstar Finance for providing such an awesome opportunity to give back! To read other stories about the Rockstar Finance charitable fund check out this link.