Nothing can diminish Zebra’s commitment to doing well by doing good – not even a global pandemic. When we make a promise to help, we follow through. Our community partners are counting on us because people are counting on them.
When our partners at Bernie’s Book Bank called us in March to see if we could help them quickly scale their modified operation to offset the impact of COVID-19 in the Chicagoland community, Zebras sprang into action.
Same Important Cause, New (Even More Critical) Mission
When COVID-19 started spreading across the United States in March, most school districts opted to suspend in-person instruction, including all of those in Illinois. Teachers and administrators had to instantly adapt curriculums to maintain a continuous education model. Families had to adjust their normal day-to-day schedules to incorporate distance learning. And millions of students had to find the motivation to keep up their schoolwork and grades despite the distractions all around them.
Even though educators did an amazing job trying to smooth the transition, many children in low-income communities across Chicagoland started to miss “class,” or e-learning. Both schools and students themselves found it difficult to secure the technology resources needed to make e-learning a viable option. Even before the pandemic, 76.4% of students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools met the federal government’s standards to qualify for free or reduced-fee lunches. Like nationwide unemployment rates, this percentage is expected to rise further in the coming months.
So, Bernie’s Book Bank stepped in to help narrow the gap.
Its mission has always been to increase book ownership among under-served infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. But with formal education suddenly inaccessible to kids without computer or internet access, giving them books to read was critical.
In a matter of days after local stay-at-home orders were issued, Bernie’s Book Bank launched the “Change Their Story” campaign with the help of philanthropic partners such as Zebra. Together, Bernie’s Book Bank and its partners found creative new ways to get these valuable books safely into the hands of children.
It Takes a Village (and a Few Zebras) to Teach a Child
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 45,000 people (including many Zebras!) would volunteer their time with Bernie’s Book Bank each year to sort and process donated books. But, like schools, Bernie’s Book Bank has had to close its doors to the public to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Because its work clearly couldn’t stop, Bernie’s Book Bank reached out to Zebra Supplies Application Architect Kelly Breneisen to help increase the efficiency, accuracy and safety of its operations. Kelly immediately looped in Ken Crafton, a Zebra Sales Engineer.
Both Kelly and Ken have been instrumental in the implementation of Zebra’s donations to Bernie’s Book Bank for the past several years. Ken has overseen the technical integration of Zebra mobile computers while Kelly has ordered the round Bernie’s Book Bank labels placed on every book received by a child. They know the operation well and were able to work quickly to help Bernie’s Book Bank execute its new campaign plan:
1. Ken would print the classic bright green Bernie’s Book Bank labels using Zebra printers and Zebra supplies…in his home!