Be A Literary Hipster Helpster

Growing up, service to others was a big part of my values – and my life.  Even in college, it was important to me to stay a part of organizations that support philanthropy and are active in the community.  It’s easy to participate and feel like a good person when you have a built-in support system like church or school, but once you’re thrown out into the great, self-involved NYC world . . . how to you stay involved?

This article from the NY Press shows how, in the midst of gentrification and hipster indifference, a new generation of “helpsters” is emerging.  It’s an interesting dichotomy – the young, mostly white ex-suburban-children move into the ‘hoods of Brooklyn, only to fight to preserve the diversity that brought them there.  It strikes a bit of an uncomfortable spot with me (I know I’m the stereotype of a 20-something S.W.F. in Brooklyn, escaping my New England roots for a creative, urban vibe and a stroller/brownstone package in Park Slope!  Yikes.).  But regardless of how you feel on the issue, the article and its subjects bring up some great causes, like New York Cares.

Bibliophiles, want to support a cause, but mostly from the comfort of your own home?  Consider these options . . .

1.  Buy Books

Literary prowess, stunning typography, edgy Penguin design . . . oh, and supporting the (RED) Aids Awareness Foundation? I can’t remember the last time I got this hot and bothered over a series of book covers.

2.  Read Books

One of my favorite personal projects is working with my pen pal over at In2Books.com!  In2Books is an amazing program that hooks up 3rd – 5th graders in classrooms with adult pen pals who read books with them and get them discussing.  Think of it as an online book club of two.  Best of all, you get to read and write letters on your own time!

3.  Sort Books

If you’re in the NYC area, consider volunteering for Project Cicero, an annual non-profit book drive create to help under-budgeted NYC public schools fill their classrooms with reading.  My sorority went last year, and we were awed by the sheer volume of donated material (1.5 million books so far), all needing to be sorted by volunteers, and then given to 8,500 classrooms and libraries.  The event is next March, so put it on your calendar for 2011!

4.  Share Books

Do you remember the magic of your first book?  I bet everyone has a few extra lying around that no one is reading . . . so donate them to First Books and give the gift of literacy to children without access to the books we love most.

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