Named in honor of the founders’ son, Drew’s Crew for Kids first began in 2016 with the mission to provide local children access to sports, arts, academic and social opportunities.
“One of the ongoing initiatives of Drew’s Crew is ‘Drew’s Bookshelf,’” Lara Plaisance of Drew’s Crew for Kids said. “We provide books for students in the Waukee School District through various outlets on a regular basis; during school breaks, at the summer meal sites and at various other events throughout the year.”
Plaisance also said that the organization provides books for patrons of the Waukee Area Christian Services Food Pantry and the Dallas County Closet. However, once the Waukee Community School District announced there would be meals offered to students due school closures, the organization expanded its services to include these grab-and-go sites.
“One of the first things we heard when we learned kids would be out of school is that the most important thing students can continue to do during the time out of school was to read - fiction, non-fiction, anything they could get their hands on,” Plaisance said. “We knew we had vulnerable families in our community from the other work we do, and knew that there would be more of those families with more adults being out of work.”
Drew’s Crew for Kids has since delivered nearly 4,000 books to be distributed at meal sites, with the same amount of books ready to be sorted, bagged and delivered. All of these books have been donated to the not-for-profit, with volunteers safely collecting these donations from front porches or receiving them on their own front steps. Donors of all households are also asked to confirm that all family members are healthy and have been practicing social distancing before contributing any items.
“We have received, literally, thousands of books and each time we sort, bag and deliver a box of books, four more boxes show up in its place,” Plaisance said.
Right now Drew’s Crew for Kids’ biggest need is empty boxes and plastic grocery sacks to help with sorting and bagging the books. The organization is also asking for donations of books for preschool through high school-aged students. All of these books are then sorted with four books per bag. These bags are boxed according to the age level not only making it quick and easy to hand out but also to help make sure as few hands as possible are touching the books.
“The primary initiative of Drew’s Crew under normal circumstances is providing individual support to students to participate in enrichment and extracurricular activities, whether that be soccer, band, dance, or camp,” Plaisance said. “Those activities are not occurring right now and our focus has shifted. However, with so many families living in uncertain economic circumstances, we expect that our applications for assistance for activities will significantly increase once activities are safe to open up again.”
Drew’s Crew for Kids will continue distributing books to Waukee families. The next book distribution is set for Monday, May 11. Drew’s Crew for Kids will hand out books from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 11 to elementary families as they pick up their students’ belongings from the schools.
“My children read books every day, and recently they had run out of new books to read,” recipient of Drew’s Bookshelf Yarinette Ortiz said. “We used to borrow the books from Waukee Public Library. But now they get their books from Drew’s Crew, just took two days for the books to arrive directly to my home in a safe way. My children are so grateful for Drew’s Crew actions. Thanks to them they have books to read and enjoy.”
Those interested in donating or volunteering for Drew’s Crew for Kids can email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out through their Facebook page.
“Our family really enjoyed the opportunity and it even stoked a reading fire within all three of our children,” Drew’s Bookshelf Volunteer Josh Loeffelholz said. “I couldn’t have been more proud of my family for helping out and of the Plaisance family for taking the initiative to run such an impactful program.”