Allstate Donates Books to Schools Hit by Hurricane Harvey

Before Hurricane Harvey, it had been 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States, the last of which being Katrina and Wilma in 2005. Within a four-day span, Hurricane Harvey pounded eastern Texas with as much as 40 inches of rain, which caused major flooding before it dissipated on September 2, 2017. Thousands of homes and businesses and dozens of schools were destroyed by the elements.

Nearly a year later, some of those schools are being rebuilt. In the Houston Independent School District (HISD), which is the largest school district in Texas, four elementary schools were hit the hardest: Braeburn, Hilliard, Mitchell, and Scarborough. They lost everything, including their entire library collections.

The Allstate Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the insurance giant by the same name, announced commitments immediately after Harvey to help Houston rebuild its schools. On July 3, 2018, the foundation donated $400,000 to help replenish those school libraries, as part of their “Rebuilding Our Readers” campaign.

Friday, July 6, Allstate leaders will bring the donation in-person to the new building of Scarborough Elementary School, which was relocated.

“We’re committed to helping Texas communities recover from this disaster, which is why we’re honored to be a part of this effort to replenish Houston ISD libraries with new books to replace those lost during Harvey,” said Larry Sedillo during a tour of the school. Sedillo is the Field Senior Vice President of Allstate in Texas.

Since the hurricane, companies across the nation have donated over $72 million to relief efforts for Houston and other areas in need of restoration. Estimates for the total economic losses amount to between $81 and $125 billion, the higher of which puts Harvey on par with Katrina. In response to the outstanding nature of the damage, the name Harvey has been retired from the list of names for rotating storms.

The Power of Giving

Celebrating Dolly Parton’s Commitment to Literacy

Imagination Library is a nonprofit founded by Dolly Parton in 1995, with the goal of giving free books to children. It began in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly was raised by a father who could not read. In its early stages, the organization sent one free book a month to every child registered from birth until kindergarten. Five years later, it had rolled out nationwide, and by 2003 they had mailed their millionth book. As of 2013, Imagination Library sends out books to over 1.2 million kids in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.

“I created the Imagination Library as a tribute to my daddy,” Parton said in a letter published on the library’s website. “He was the smartest man I have ever known but I know in my heart his inability to read probably kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

On February 27th, 2018, Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book, a massive milestone. At an event held at the Library of Congress, she read her own children’s book, Coat of Many Colors, to an audience. The reading is part of her new collaboration with the Library of Congress, in which children’s books will be read aloud by their authors and shared with libraries and viewers around the country via the internet.

Imagination Library is fueled by partnerships with companies that donate the books and shipping resources needed to make Parton’s dreams come true. Other key sponsors include Rotary International and Dollywood, the singer’s own theme park located in the Great Smoky Mountains.

One day after that milestone, nearly another 100,000 books have already gone out. The work is ongoing. Those who want to help or would like to register a child can do so here.


Jim C. Hines Fights Aicardi and Sexism

Jim C Hines
IMG: Craig Hebert /

Last year, Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Jim C. Hines decided he was fed up with the way women were depicted on the covers of books. He wanted to comment on it, but he also wanted to do so in a playful way that would catch people’s attention. So naturally, he decided to imitate the poses himself. What he got out of it was back pain—and a strong response from readers who either agreed with his sentiment or enjoyed the photos.

Rather than leave it at that, Jim C. Hines wanted to push the envelope a bit further. Next, he had his wife take photos of him posing again—but this time the males on covers. What he discovered was that males typically hold the position of dominance over a woman if they are both present—and if they are not, they still hold a “macho” pose. No strange contortions, no residual back pain for Hines at the end of the shoot.

In December, Jim C. Hines also decided to host a charity drive to raise money for Aicardi Syndrome. Aicardi Syndrome is a rare but vicious genetic disorder that can cause brain malformations, delays in development, seizures and more. Life expectancy is between 8 and 16 years old. Jim C. Hines has friends whose children suffer from Aicardi Syndrome—including one whose daughter recently passed away due to complications of it.

Hines told readers that in exchange for donations, he’d duplicate more book covers—at their request. If he raised his goal of $5,000 or more, he promised he’d gather together four other authors to duplicate the cover of Young Flandry at ConFusion: John Scalzi, Pat Rothfuss, Charles Stross, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

Needless to say, Hines met his goal and kept his promise. He raised a total of $15,405 for the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation, which funds research for treatment and helps family members of those afflicted stay connected with researchers. At the end of the day, Hines did some great work to be proud of. Not only did he bring the spotlight to sexist book covers and the portrayal of female characters, but he also raised a pretty penny to help in the fight against Aicardi Syndrome.