SCARCE finds new ways to help kids in need of books at home

  • Books and supplies from SCARCE are handed out to Villa Park School District 45 families by Tri-Town YMCA staff along with meals on April 22nd, 2020.

    Books and supplies from SCARCE are handed out to Villa Park School District 45 families by Tri-Town YMCA staff along with meals on April 22nd, 2020. Courtesy of Sarah O'Donnell

Updated 6/24/2020 4:28 PM

With schools and libraries closed during the stay-at-home order, reading material has been hard to come by, especially for low-income families.

To meet that need, SCARCE, an environmental education nonprofit based in Addison, has been partnering with local social service organizations. So far, over 3,400 books have been donated to organizations serving low-income families in the Chicago area.


"Kids are stuck at home right now and we know that many kids in our area don't have books at home. We have books so we can help fix that," said Kay McKeen, SCARCE executive director.

SCARCE runs a reuse center that provides books and educational materials to schools and non-profits while diverting resources from landfills. New and gently-used books are donated by local families, schools, libraries, and businesses. While the resource center has been closed to visitors SCARCE has been finding creative ways to help.

During the shutdown, SCARCE has connected with local groups to donate books to hand out to families with food assistance including Tri-Town YMCA and Villa Park Elementary District 45, the Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center, Elgin Partnership for Early Learning, Neighborhood Food Pantries in West Chicago, and MetroSquash in Chicago.

Getting books to children who don't have many is a simple way to help them succeed. Children who grow up in a home with books attain higher levels of education, no matter their parents' education level or income. Books can also provide a healthy way to escape stressors and inspire hope - something we can all use right now.

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"Being able to deliver books and supplies to local children not only provided the kids with the tools to keep up with their homework and e-learning, but it gave them a sense of hope and wonderment while providing respite to their parents trying to balance through very challenging times," said Sarah O'Donnell of Tri-Town YMCA in Lombard. "We are so grateful that SCARCE was here to answer the needs of more than 200 children that we serve."

Local organizations in need of books or supplies for the communities they serve are encouraged to contact SCARCE at (630) 545-9710 or

SCARCE reopened their reuse center at 800 S Rohlwing Road in Addison on June 15. School staff and non-profit personnel are invited to come get books and school supplies for the children they serve. More information about SCARCE and their reuse center can be found on

Community members interested in supporting these efforts can make a financial donation online at or call (630) 545-9710 to donate books.