Northwestern and Beck’s hold book drive for District 65

Stephanie Yang

Northwestern partnered with Beck’s Book Store and Foundation 65 for the first time to host a book drive at Thursday’s men’s basketball game against Nebraska. The donated books will go to students in the District 65 school district in Evanston and Skokie.

Wildcats fans had the opportunity to donate a “gently used” young adult or children’s book before Feb. 2 in exchange for a ticket voucher to be redeemed at the game, according to a University press release. The voucher was used to receive a discounted $20 ticket to the game, instead of the usual $27 price. Season ticket holders could also donate books to enter a raffle for a $100 Beck’s gift card. The store set up the Beck’s Mobile Van outside the arena for donations at the game.

Natalie Kasputis, Beck’s manager, said Beck’s worked together with the NU athletic department and started discussing the event in the middle of January. She said they also touched on the subject in the summer but had not figured out any details then.

Kasputis said this is the first time Beck’s has done something like this, and she is open to the possibility of continuing it depending on the success of the event.

“We would love to, if enough people bring books to make it worthwhile to participate,” she said.

The NU athletic department helped publicize the event, Kasputis said, and Beck’s also used Facebook and Twitter to spread the message. She said some people had already donated books to Beck’s for the book drive, but much of the book collecting and the raffle would be done at the game.

Collected books will go to Foundation 65, an educational foundation for the Evanston-Skokie School District 65. Foundation 65 is an independent nonprofit organization that works closely with the 16 schools of District 65 to enhance academic achievement, Lise Jinno, executive director of Foundation 65, said. The organization also raises funds and makes grants to support the district’s arts and literacy program.

“The intent is to be able to get books into the hand of students at District 65,” Jinno said. “Research has shown that a lot of kids just don’t have access to print media.”

Jinno said she hopes making literature more available for the K-8 students in the district will boost academic achievement. She said because the NU athletic department was not able to predict how successful the drive would be, there is uncertainty about the way the books will be distributed.

“What I would love to see happen is that if we get enough books, the kids will actually get to take the books home,” Jinno said. “But that will depend on how well it does.”

Jinno said she is excited to be able to work and develop Foundation 65’s relationship with NU.

“NU has been a great supporter of Foundation 65,” Jinno said. “We are always actively looking for ways to collaborate with Northwestern.”

[email protected]