The GivingWorks Empathy Project

Help Those with Less be Givers Too 

While most giving projects are aimed at children and adults with “more” giving to those with less, it occurred to us recently that many children living in poverty rarely get the chance to give to others, having so little themselves. So we developed the GivingWorks Empathy Project, a program designed to give children with “less” the opportunity to be givers too.

How it works:

It’s a “Double Giving” project!

First, a group of children with enough to give – either a group of families, friends and neighbors, or a classroom, religious group or scouting group – holds a gently used (or new) book drive to collect preschool or kindergarten aged books.  They then ship the books to us at Family-to-Family.

Family-to-Family then identifies a group of economically disadvantaged children or teens at a school, after-school program or other community group – the “giving kids” –  and provides them with:

  • The gently used (or new) books that were collected for preschool or kindergarten kids
  • String backpacks
  • Book labels
  • Postcards

The “giving” kids each choose 4 of the books, decorate and attach a (“This Book Belongs To _____”) book label to each one and put the 4 books into a backpack. They also each address 4 postcards back to themselves (with their name, c/o their school/organization’s address), clip the postcards together with paperclips and add them to the backpack.

As a group, they bring the filled backpacks to a local head start or elementary school classroom with a population also struggling with poverty. Each older, giving child is assigned a younger child to sit and read with, sharing the books they have packed in the backpack. (The older kids also pencil the name of the younger child onto the four postcards, and the teacher collects the postcards so the younger kids can later draw or write back to their book buddies about each book.)

After reading together, the givers surprise the little ones by writing their names on each of the book labels and share with them that these books are now theirs to take home!

Those of us who give of ourselves know how good it feels to “share our bounty”. Through this compassionate giving activity, we hope to provide these “giver” children with that VERY SAME experience.

Watch a GivingWorks! event

How You Can Help

  • Host a book drive to collect gently used books for children ages 3-5 from your neighbors, friends and classmates (nothing ripped, dirty, written-in or scary please!).
  • Share your own children’s libraries by sending gently used books for 3-5 year olds.
  • Make your child’s next birthday a “Giving Party,” and ask each invited child to bring one gently used preschool age book from their home library.
  • Purchase drawstring backpacks and send them to us at Family-to-Family.

If you are shipping books, note that the U.S. Postal Service  has a special media rate, which is significantly cheaper than sending a 1st-class package.

Send books or backpacks to:

GivingWorks Empathy Project
PO Box 255
Hastings on Hudson, N.Y. 10706

Corporate Donors interested in sponsoring The GivingWorks Empathy Project, please contact Pam Koner at

If you’re a teacher, run an after-school program or work with disadvantaged kids and would like your children to participate in The GivingWorks Empathy Project, contact us at

Feedback about GivingWorks…

“What an outstanding day!!!!!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this most memorable event possible.  The gift of giving is a wonderful thing!  This brought my students to a place in their hearts, that they haven’t experienced in a while……possibly never at all!   All of our faces hurt from smiling sooo much!”
– Gina Sobel, Sharpstown High School, Houston, Tx.

“It was great!! My students really connected to the kindergartners and I could sense that they really took pride in helping younger kids get through a book. The students at the elementary school were actually mostly Spanish speakers, so some of my students went above and beyond reading both in English and translating the story into Spanish for the little ones. It was adorable! They definitely took pride in reading aloud, especially my more nervous and struggling students. It was a real leadership experience for them. The little ones were also very well-behaved and excited to have a big “brother” or “sister” for the day and to receive the books and bags. We all had a great time!”
Raqshinda Khan, Bea Fuller Rodgers School, N.Y., N.Y.