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Photo: Patrick Frenette.
October 6, 2020
In July and August, Lauren Bonfiglio held a book drive to serve children in the New York City area and bring the ABT community together.

"This “free time” experience has kept me connected with my ABT family, along with introducing me to new friends and collaborators. I look forward to volunteering with Brooklyn Book Bodega again in the near future."

By Lauren Bonfiglio

Lauren Bonfiglio with books collected for her ABT book drive.
Lauren Bonfiglio with books collected for her ABT book drive.

There’s been a shared sentiment amongst many of us that having extra time on our hands has led us to explore our other interests and passions. Having more time in the day to think, reflect and fill those hours has proven to be a unique challenge.

Before the pandemic, every department of ABT was gearing up to celebrate our 80th Anniversary, and we were on a high after the successful world premiere for Of Love & Rage.

For me, this momentum fueled my desire to create and stay engaged with the ABT community, along with NYC in the months following the shutdown. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed wearing a few different hats: dancer, college student, teacher, videographer, editor. Volunteering was something that I always wanted to take part in, but with ABT’s bustling rehearsal and performance seasons, it was hard to find time to do so. This unexpected break in our schedule has given me the opportunity to explore volunteering possibilites.

I came across Brooklyn Book Bodega through a community email. They are a 501(c) (3) organization, based in Brooklyn, whose mission is to increase the number of households that have 100+ books for babies, kids and teens. I was enthralled by this idea, as reading was something that I loved while growing up, and I wanted to help families build a library of their own, especially during this time of the pandemic.

With this, I decided to host a book drive and wanted to include my colleagues and friends at ABT. I organized a few different ways as to how people could participate in donating that included books coming through the mail to my apartment and scheduling socially distanced or contactless pick-ups around the boroughs of NYC.

I was so thankful and thrilled for the enthusiastic response, as we’ve already delivered about 600 books to Brooklyn Book Bodega. And, as more packages keep arriving at my apartment, the count is now closer to 800 books!

The process of putting word out, receiving and collecting books, sorting them into age categories and delivering to Brooklyn Book Bodega was a fantastic experience for me, learning how to take a project from beginning to end. I love to keep busy and having Brooklyn Book Bodega to work with made my summer very fulfilling.

While sorting the books, it was fun to come across some of my favorites like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, along with The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, The House on Mango Street, The Outsidersand of course Romeo and Juliet. It was also so wonderful to have an author in our ABT community sign and donate copies of her new book Gravity.

This “free time” experience has kept me connected with my ABT family, along with introducing me to new friends and collaborators. I look forward to volunteering with Brooklyn Book Bodega again in the near future. I’m feeling super grateful to all that supported this book drive, making it a success. Happy Reading!

Lauren Bonfiglio has been a member of the corps de ballet since 2015.

Last month, the first two books in ABT’s partnership with Random House Children’s Books launched. Have you checked out B is for Ballet and Boys Dance! yet? Find them wherever books are sold!