May 2014 Newsletter
                        2,503,984 books distributed since December 2009!


The 3rd Annual Books Lovers' Lunch was a huge success!  The lunch took place Friday, May 9 at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park. Over 200 guests attended this SOLD OUT event, featuring award-winning author Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The Hummingbird's Daughter, Into the Beautiful North and Queen of America.

     The lunch kicked off with a book signing by Urrea. Luis delivered a keynote presentation about his life, work, and love of books. In this presentation, Urrea explained his feeling of connection to our mission.

"I was one of the kids Bernie's helps. It's no exaggeration to say every book we had was worth a fortune to me," said Urrea. "A used paperback on a shelf made me the richest kid in the neighbor-hood. My parents' greatest gift to me was a love of books."

     Following the presentation was a heartfelt message from Bernie's Book Bank Founder and Executive Director, Brian Floriani, a paddle raise, as well as a raffle drawing for exciting prize packages. The afternoon concluded with a surprise auction for a personalized, one-of-a-kind handmade book that features poetry, prose, and illustrations by Urrea.

     The 3rd Annual Book Lovers' Lunch raised enough money to collect, process, and distribute 150,000 quality books to 25,000 more at-risk children with 6 books each! Special thanks to our amazing co-chairs, Jacqueline Babb, Allison Derr and Maureen Grinnell for making this event possible. And of course, thank you to our hosts and guests for helping us increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-aged children throughout Chicagoland!  

Some of our fabulous committee members and hosts with Brian Floriani and Luis Alberto Urrea.

by Elizabeth Blasko, Intern

In This Issue
Thank You From A Child
Book Lovers' Lunch Success
Meet Our New Interns
Support Spotlight
A Message From Brian
Our Mission

Bernie's Book Bank collects, processes and distributes quality new and gently used children's books to significantly increase BOOK OWNERSHIP among at-risk infants, toddlers and school age children throughout Chicagoland.


We have distributed more than 2.5 MILLION books since December 2009 and now serve more than 85,000 at-risk children annually.

Our Goal
To collect, process and distribute 4 MILLION books per year, serving all 300,000 at-risk children in the Chicagoland area with 12 quality books per year by 2016.

Grow, Serve and Connect to our mission, to the children we serve and to our team! 

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Your donation today makes quality book ownership a reality for at-risk children! 

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Bernie's Book Bank (2013 Philanthropy Awards)
Watch our latest video!
We couldn't be more excited to have Elizabeth and Eric join us for the summer! Stop by the processing center and meet them in person!

I'm Elizabeth Blasko. I am thrilled to be the Nonprofit Management Intern at Bernie's Book Bank! In my few short weeks working here I have been warmly welcomed into the Bernie's family. Every day I learn more about how a nonprofit operates and what makes Bernie's Book Bank unique.  

     I am currently a Junior at Western Michigan University, studying public relations, nonprofit leadership, and event management. I am involved with various organizations including the Chi Omega Fraternity, Nonprofit Leadership Student Association, and Public Relations Organization. I work on campus as a Peer Student Success Team Mentor for the Lee Honors College. I am also a Lead Corp intern for the office of Student Leadership Activities and Programs.

     My passion for books is what drew me to Bernie's Book Bank. I previously served as Miss Lake County in 2012 and Miss Grayslake in 2011. During my time as an ambassador for Lake County I created and supported a child literacy platform called, "Read to Succeed." My platform projects included, planning various book drives, hosting book readings for children, and promoting literacy at town festivals and events.

      In my free time I enjoy watching NASCAR, listening to the Backstreet Boys, and exercising. I also love to perform as Princess Belle for ill children as a part of a volunteer group I co-founded called, Magical Moments. Most importantly, my favorite children's books are: A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree, Time for Bed, and all Dr. Seuss books!


I am Eric Decker and I am the Marketing Intern this summer. I will be providing support for Bernie's Book Bank's communications and marketing efforts! I am a senior at Marquette University studying public relations and marketing where I also work in communications for the athletic department.  I began volunteering for Bernie's way back in the beginning of the organization and am happy to be back! I enjoy sports, photography and reading!


We are thrilled to count the Chicago Tribune among our supporters!  They are hosting a book drive in all of their buildings in Chicago from now through the 30th Printer's Row Lit Fest held June 7-8!

Look for our ad in the special supplement being published in the Trib on Friday, May 30 with all the details for this author & literature packed festival!  We will host a table at Lit Fest, where we will share the mission with thousands of new friends!  Attendees will also be able to donate books at the festival.  Come on down and look for the Bernie's Book Bank truck - we'll be nearby!


You may recognize the Wilkov family from Deerfield and their campaign, ONE MILLION BOOKS, from previous newsletters or from Facebook. 
If you don't know their story and how they are supporting Bernie's Book Bank - you should!  See it in their own words during this interview on NBC 5 Chicago! 
A Message from Brian
Dear Fellow Berniacs:


I couldn't be any more excited about our progress.

AND, I have so many things to be grateful for:

  • a SOLD OUT Book Lovers' Lunch led by an incredible committee and headlined by one of my now favorite people, Luis Alberto Urrea!
  • a record breaking April from a production standpoint-122,568 quality books distributed to more than 20,000 area at-risk children.
  • a record breaking April for volunteers-more than 2,100 volunteer hours were dedicated to Bernie's Book Bank in the Processing Center alone. WE LOVE YOU VOLUNTEERS!
  • we have the best staff on the planet; driven, professional, caring, dedicated, giving, focused and united.
  • 2 incredibly talented interns who have a very bright future in Elizabeth Blasko & Eric Decker.
  • a board that is second to none-THANK YOU!
  • book drives are at record levels.
  • more & more publishers are joining the movement, thank you!
  • future plans that will transform our capabilities and make replication a reality.....shhhhhhhh.
  • warmth and sunshine.
  • AND, so much more.

Let's keep it rolling!  We are on our way to 4 MILLION a year by 2016!

Brian's signature
Brian Floriani
Founder & Executive Director
847-780-READ (7323)