Oakland Firefighters Random Acts has created programs over the years that have given Firefighters a way to step into the community. They show up with their hearts and the kids really get excited. Our Books and Balls program has now taken place in 15 Oakland public elementary schools. Firefighters recommend schools in their fire district, or we identify schools that really need help. The school is asked to give us a list of the books they need for their library and what kind of playground balls they would like as well.
Each time we have done this it has been a huge success, but each one has been different. We have been able to add computers and specialized equipment along with specific sports equipment. One Principal told us after we surprised the children that she was so happy. Because they had no playground balls, “The kids would play foursquare and put a student in the center of the square and push them back and forth”.
We partner with companies and local businesses to sponsor a Books and Balls program and invite them to come along to see where their donations are going. We drive our parade fire engine, with our partners on board, onto the playground where the children have been assembled for what they think is a fire drill. A short presentation takes place where we hand out the books we have brought for them. We let them know that Firefighters have written messages to them on the inside covers and that the books are for the entire school to use. Sometime the parents come to the library to read the messages.
We ask for a show of hands of who agrees to read the books (they all raise their hands) and that we have another surprise for them. A smaller group of students that were picked ahead of time come forward and then the magic happens. The Firefighters and our partners that day throw out a hundred playground balls to the kids. The controlled chaos that begins is filled with laughter, screams of joy, jumping up and down followed by the kisses, hugs and handshakes the Firefighters and our partners receive from children, teachers and parents.
If your company, business, or organization would like to sponsor a Books and Balls Program and experience exactly where your donation is going, please contact us and we will work together to step into the lives of children and let them know that someone cares!