Christmas in July? Not Quite, But There Was Plenty of Giving Taking Place on the City’s Eastside in July

Original article posted in The Sojourner's Truth - 08/13/15

Books 4 Buddies hosted an event at the LMHA Weiler Homes complex where residents were treated to books, burgers and bags of goodies. 

With the inviting music of Michael Jackson in the background, about 100 people ignored the heat and attended the event which also included vision screenings, Kindergarten and Head Start registration, arts and crafts, and a raffle.

Books 4 Buddies, founded by Toure’ McCord II, is an organization that collects new and gently used books for disadvantaged youths.  It then gives or distributes the books back into the community.  The organization’s President Laneta Goings estimates the group has donated over 30,000 books.

That tally is sure to head north as youngsters of all ages were allowed to pick out and keep the books they selected.  For many, these books will become the initial deposit in their personal libraries.

Dozens of volunteers, from Toledo Public Schools, Toledo Youth Commission, and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office, were on hand to help the children make their selections and fill their totes with goodies like bookmarks, water bottles and plastic toys.

Also present, clad in their traditional orange T-shirts, were the Book Ambassadors. The 25 Ambassadors, a diverse group from area high schools, promote the mission of Books 4 Buddies and help improve literacy skills among boys. They also serve as role models and are already young community leaders. 

This was on full display as the Ambassadors read to the children who were comfortably seated around them in the grass.  Both readers and listeners refused to let the heat distract them as they interacted with one another.  The Ambassadors participating in the reading included: Keshawn Corggens, Ivan Dye, Myles Johnson, Bryant Kobak, Zane Kruszynski, Scottie Seymour, Aaron Thompson, Jordan Topoleski, and Oran Williams. 

Young Corggens was especially effective as the children fed off his energy level which seemed to match the heat index.  But the Ambassadors never lose their focus, they’re aware that this is not about them. As Jordan Topoleski, a sophomore from Sylvania Southview, said “it’s about the kids.”

Other highlights included the picnic lunch, provided by TPS, the arts and crafts stations and the raffle giveaways handed out by Robert Mendenhall, TPS Director of Curriculum, and Captain T.O. Walker, of the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office.

No surprise that the face painting area proved to be a popular destination, with many of the faces resembling animals better suited for the near 90* weather.

The Weiler Homes event in July was followed by a similar one at Birmingham Terrace on August 7 as the Ambassadors, Sheriff’s Deputies, TPS representatives and Toledo Youth Commission repeated the formula for success that brought together so many volunteers and residents.

Books 4 Buddies has an upcoming event planned for the Northwest Ohio Rib Off (Aug. 13-16).

Sponsors of the organization include: The Blade, Apex Micrographics, Inc., Buckeye CableSystem, The Andersons,, Fifth Third Bank, Franklin Park Mall, HART, LMHA, Lucas County Sheriff, John Tharp, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Toledo Public Schools, and Toledo Youth Commission.

For more information on Books 4 Buddies visit