More Thoughts on The Clinic

imageBy Erik Merke

Whether you’re a teacher, tutor, parent, or student, you know the power of a favorite book and the joys that come from reading.  Obviously, there is a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment when volunteering, but A to Z goes beyond that.  When A to Z isn’t sending books to impoverished schools in Zambia, they help local residents through community outreach events, such as the book fair held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake.

Students of all ages filed into the gymnasium looking for books.  Getting just the right book into the hands of an eager young reader was my goal that day.  Each volunteer hoped to ignite a spark that would ultimately transform a casual page-turner into a life-long reader.

As new books found themselves into the bags of each student who came to shop, I could see their smiles as they browsed the table tops.  That’s what volunteering at the Clinic was all about for me -getting kids excited about reading books.  As I talked about various authors and explained book plots, I hoped they saw how much I liked books, and that my enthusiasm would rub off on them.  It was an awesome experience and I look forward to volunteering again.

Getting Books into the Hands of Kids at The Clinic



By Anastasia Gruper

The anticipation of getting books into the hands of kids made setting up seem like an eternity.  First we met to pack the car full of books and shelves to display the plethora of titles.  Then we unpacked and set up in the Immanuel Lutheran gymnasium. The Brownie troop and Cole had a great handle on the set up; it would never have been completed so quickly without them.  As we moved boxes of books, we were able to chat with other non-profit organizations setting up for the clinic.  The passion and commitment of so many individuals was heart warming. Once the set up was complete, we waited patiently for the people to arrive.

As the first few people walked through the books, I watched as my friends and colleagues helped children find the perfect book.  Not wanting to steal the joy from anyone else, I waited my turn.  When a twelve year old girl brought her six year old brother through the line, I asked her what types of books she liked to read.  She shook her head no, as if to say she wasn’t interested. Her little brother had found four books rather quickly, and I knew from her glancing at the books that she would love a few for herself.  I picked up Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and began to tell her why I loved the book.  As if being polite, she accepted the book.  I moved on to A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and then First Light by Rebecca Stead. The girl took each book I chatted about. As I left the gymnasium, I prayed that something I said interested the little girl to read.  Something in my heart tells me she just needed to be encouraged to take a few.

Reflections on The Clinic

By Koriann Lance


I was nervous coming to the clinic to volunteer. I didn’t know what to expect, as I had never been a part of an event such as this before. After I helped the first young girl find a book just for her, my heart melted and I forgot about my nerves. To know that this little girl went home with something all her own to get lost in and enjoy….priceless.

I also remember several adult individuals thanking me, repeatedly. I heard from several people “God bless you.” I wanted to say, “No, God bless you!” They gave me the gift of helping me open my eyes to the needs of our community. They gave me the fulfillment of knowing that I helped in some small way, though I know much more needs to be done. They gave me the gift of understanding what a community really means.

The clinic was held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, IL.  If you’d like to learn more, please visit them at