MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Donate books to Westwood Elementary School

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Do you have books on your shelves that your children and grandchildren have outgrown or no longer need? Here’s a great place for them: for the past seven years, the folks at Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Washington Twp. have been supporting the students at Westwood Elementary School in West Dayton.

During this time, the congregation has provided volunteer tutors and has donated thousands of children’s books to the school. “Since the pandemic began the fellowship has not been able to continue the tutoring, but they continue to donate books for the students,” explains volunteer Steve Steel, who spearheads the project and says he loves getting books into the hands of kids.

Every August, the fellowship holds a book drive; last August, more than 450 new children’s books were collected. The drives are supplemented by the purchase of used books throughout the year from area bookstores and book sales.

“Once the books are collected, they are delivered to Westwood Elementary School,” explains Steel. “Some of the books are placed into the school’s new book vending machine. Students earn tokens by having good attendance, following directions and showing other positive behaviors. The students can then use their tokens to purchase a book from the vending machine.

The goal is to promote literacy and make students excited to read.”

Books are also placed in the Little Free Library that’s outside Westwood’s main entrance.

“MVUUF not only provides popular children’s books; they also place an emphasis on books featuring diverse characters, positive messages and role models,” explains Steel.” The goal is to ensure all the kids have access to high quality books with characters and stories they can relate to.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Last year when we shared info about the collection in the newspaper, readers really came through. “I got donations from individuals adding up to hundreds of books,” said Steel. “One Springboro teacher saw the Make a Difference column and brought eight boxes of books to my house!”

When members of the League of Women Voters read the newspaper article, they decided to have their own book drive and collected hundreds of books for Westwood. “We did a joint end-of-school drop-off to the principal at Westwood,” Steel adds.

Here’s what they need:

  • New and gently used books for children ages 4-12.
  • Early readers
  • Chapter books
  • Picture books

You can drop books off between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays at the school, 2805 Oakridge Drive in Dayton.

Another option is to take books between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays or Fridays to Steel at his home, 810 Warrington Pl., in the Patterson Park neighborhood (Southeast off Patterson and Shroyer). For additional questions or to arrange pick-up or different drop-offs, contact Steel at 937-304-4087.

“No donation is too small,” says Steel.” The fellowship will also accept monetary donations to purchase books. To donate online, go to the following website and scroll down to the slot to donate for the Westwood/Wesley Book Drive: or mail a check made out to MVUUF and with “book drive” in the memo line to: MVUUF, 8690 Yankee St., Washington Township, OH 45458.

According to Steel, several other Dayton elementary schools — including Edison and Cleveland — also have Little Libraries. You might want to give them a call to see if they’d also welcome book donations.

Need hand sanitizer? Plastic tableware?

“Our company has approximately 500 eight-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer that are available for donation; these are 75 percent ethyl alcohol and have an expiration date of 3/2022,” writes one of our readers. He says because ethyl alcohol does not degrade it should be fine for ordinary use.

We’ve also gotten a note from an individual who has been saving plastic tableware that’s still in unopened packages and would like to know of a worthy cause that might use them.

If you’re a non-profit that can use either of these items, please let me know.


Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith:

Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.

About the Author