Ori Akrish, Judi Kovach and Kristen Saada

What’s better on a miserable cold and rainy night than to curl up with a good book at home? Well, about 200 book lovers and reading enthusiasts put that plan on hold to attend a fund- and friend-raiser for the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank at the Pinecrest venue Pinstripes. Pre-COVID the benefit was ‘Eat, Drink and Be Literate,’ a ladies-night out. But given that the new executive director is Ori Akrish, that event, last created in 2019, was shelved for Booktoberfest, and it looks like the organization has a hit on its hands.
Enthusiastic patrons mixed and mingled on the topmost floor of the surprisingly roomy venue. Passed snacks and buffet tables laden with heavy hors d’oeuvres were available, plus a chef-supervised food

Marilyn and Davie Elk and Susan Delaney

station. Salads, filet sliders, chicken skewers, and spanakopita were available, followed by cheesecake bites and hand-painted book-themed cookies. Beer and wine abounded, with a cash bar at hand. Guests mixed and mingled, enjoying a decidedly bookish collection of silent auction and raffle items, plus a clever spin on a mystery wine pull, a blind book pull. Then there were the trips to Antigua and Tuscany to bid on as well.
As Currents mentioned in our October edition, the Book Bank is well known throughout the educational and medical communities. If you’re just now catching up, its goal is to get books into the hands of children in need at an early age so everyone can get comfortable reading for fun.
While the goal for the evening was a modest $30,000, organizers hoped

Susan Paul, Leslie FitzSimmons, Jessica Walsh-Frazier, Jessica Naik, and Kristen Lucas

to raise a bit more. Just like a food bank, the book bank’s dollar has more buying power than an individual’s dollar, so contributions are always welcome. Additionally, volunteers are needed to help sort incoming donations (new and gently used books) and also distribute books at community events and venues.
So far, so good. The Book Bank announced at the height of the evening that since 2016 the small-staffed but mightily supported organization has distributed four million books (over 660,000 per year) to children throughout Cuyahoga County. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER