Pennsylvania Convention Center & Partners Donate 40,000 Books in Big Book Giveaway for Kids in Need

Educators from Title I programs received reading materials in commemoration of  the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s 25th Anniversary

PHILADELPHIA (September 6) – The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) and its hospitality and business partners donated a truckload of more than 40,000 books to children in need during a three-day community service project that commemorated the facility’s 25th anniversary.

More than 50 volunteers - including Convention Center staff, union workers who are members of the Convention Center’s trade partners, the Temple University Government Affairs Department, Miss America contestants, and a range of other individuals - helped to distribute books to educators.  The books were purchased through First Book, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to equal access to quality education. The resources were made available to 400 educators and leaders serving Title I schools and children’s programs in the Philadelphia region.

Heather A. Steinmiller, Esq., Vice Chair of the PCCA Board of Directors, proposed the community impact project for the start of the school year to help children overcome one of the most challenging hurdles to their education, the lack of books.

“The Pennsylvania Convention Center has always been a major contributor to the greater Philadelphia community and supports a number of charitable efforts,” Steinmiller said. “This program offered us a unique opportunity to bring two of our passions together, the hospitality industry and improving education for kids living below the poverty level.”

Steinmiller raised more $35,500 in donations to secure a truckload of reading materials through First Book, which is also celebrating its 25th year of community service.  Since its inception, First Book has distributed more than 175 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries.

“First Book believes that all children should have abundant access to high-quality books and resources, no matter they live,” said Anna Anderson, senior director for strategic alliances at First Book. “We couldn’t be more grateful to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for organizing such a significant effort to make that belief a reality. Their commitment to education and access will make a difference for many Philadelphia area children.”

Lack of access to adequate resource materials is one of the greatest contributors to educational inequality in the United States and it is especially pervasive in low-income communities. Recent research identified vast “book deserts,” with one community having one book for every 830 children.[1]

The Convention Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a year-long series of events including the Big Book Giveaway and the PCC Community Festival, which was held June 30 with Welcome America. The Convention Center opened in May 1993 and has since generated more than $13.3 billion in regional economic impact, helping to employ more than 77,000 individuals in the regional hospitality industry this year.

“It is an honor for the Pennsylvania Convention Center and our partners to provide dedicated volunteers and resources to serve our community,” said PCCA Chairman Gregory J. Fox, Esq. “We thank Heather for her leadership on this event that helps us encourage enriched reading experiences for children. Supporting education is a key philanthropy of the Center and our partnership with First Book will make a significant impact in supporting our local teachers and students.”

Partners who donated staff and financial contributions to the generous effort include: Aramark Corp., Elliott-Lewis Corp., International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (Local 8), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 98), International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (Local 405), Laborers’ District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia and Vicinity L.I.U.N.A., Laborers International Union of N.A. (Local 332), and facility manager SMG.

Several former contestants in the Miss America Pageant assisted as volunteers in the processing and distribution of the books. They worked with PCCA/SMG staff as well as teams of volunteers from organizations such as Temple University and Philadelphia Academies.

Educators and program directors towing luggage carts, two-wheeled dollies and little wagons gathered up to 150 books each during three distribution shifts held at the Convention Center today.

“We are really glad we came today,” said Victoria Robson who works in social services for St. Gabriel School in South Philadelphia. “We are building a library for our after-school program. We learned about this event and First Book and we decided to come down. We are really thankful.”

“This project is a great example of the generosity of Philadelphia’s regional hospitality community and the women and men it employs,” said PCCA President & CEO John J. McNichol. “Reading is a key to developing a strong workforce and an even stronger community surrounding the Convention Center.”

Social Media Hashtags: #EveryStartaGreatStart, #PCC25, #GreatSpacePHL

[1] Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525