Frequently Asked Questions
What are the responsibilities of a WePAC volunteer?
Volunteers in our libraries read aloud to classes, engage students in literacy activities, catalog books, check them in and out, and maintain the library as a welcoming environment.
Volunteers in our Library Buddies program work one-on-one with students on literacy skills through games, reading aloud, and activities, typically in the library setting, during literacy instruction time.
Who is eligible to volunteer?
WePAC welcomes volunteers who are 18 years or older: parents, grandparents, retirees, college students and community members. Volunteers must pass required clearances before they may work in the schools.
We know that children also like to help other children! If your child or student group is interested in doing a school supplies or book drive to support WePAC programs, please email us at email@example.com for details on current opportunities and needs.
How long is the volunteer commitment?
We ask volunteers to commit to at least 2 hours a week for one school semester. Many volunteers are able to give more time and some have been with WePAC for many years!
How do I begin volunteering?
Start by completing our online New Volunteer Registration form. From there, we will be in touch. You will be required to complete clearances required by the School District of Philadelphia (we will guide you), and then you will need to attend a WePAC orientation and training session to get you ready to go into the school. That might sound like a lot, but we promise it is all quite easy and painless! Any questions? Just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-452-0333. We are always looking for new volunteers and would love to welcome you to the WePAC team!
What clearances are needed? And, can I provide my own?
The School District of Philadelphia requires volunteers to have the FBI Fingerprint clearance, PA Statewide History clearance, and Child Abuse History Record clearance. If you already have these three, and they are from the past calendar year, just make copies and submit them to our office. *Note, Volunteers who are parents of students in the School District of Philadelphia only need the PA Statewide History clearance and Child Abuse History Record clearance.
After orientation how long will it take for me to start volunteering at one of WePAC’s schools?
During the school year new volunteers can usually start in one of our programs within the same week they submit their clearances!
Will I be on my own in a library?
No. Library volunteers work with a team of other volunteers. The classroom teacher and aides stay with the class and provide additional support.
Where do the books come from? Do you accept book donations? Can I do a book drive for WePAC?
The shelves in our libraries are stacked with tens of thousands of books received through generous donations. As we’re sure you can understand, not every book is right for our libraries. We simply cannot accept every book, and it takes a lot of manpower to sort through all of the donated books we receive. Plus, there can be times of the year when we are at capacity and cannot accept more books. Before you begin your book collection, we ask you to:
- Email us at email@example.com to see if we are currently accepting books
- Confirm WePAC will have the capacity to take them – discuss the approximate number of books and when you would expect to deliver them
- Have a conversation about how to arrange delivering books to our libraries when your collection is finished
- Get a copy of our current “most-wanted” list to guide your book collection
We cannot accept any books that are:
- in poor condition (torn, written in, falling apart, mildew)
- old (outdated information, unappealing presentation of pictures or text, content that is inappropriate per today’s cultural standards)
- encyclopedias/dictionaries (these tend to be outdated)
- coloring books / sticker books
- board books / toddler / preschool books (ex: Goodnight Moon and Sesame Street aren’t really appropriate for our libraries)
- books of a religious-teaching nature (other than general books that could mention holidays, or books that broadly teach about world religions … but the reality is these aren’t popular “sellers” in our libraries)
- books geared toward adults
- books for upper grades 9-12 (most of our libraries are K-3 or K-4; some go higher, but no higher than grade 8.)
New, hardcover (or even library bound) books are preferred. However, we do put used and softcover books in our libraries if they are in good condition. Hardcover books just last much longer and are less apt to get lost on the shelves.
One thing to keep in mind is that less is more. We truly value quality of books (titles that children want to read, great condition, very durable, current) over quantity. We very much would prefer 50 good quality books our students will want to read over 500 or 5,000 that will never even make it to our library shelves because we have to weed through them first, or that end up sitting on our shelves never to be selected.
We are always available to answer questions about best practices for book drives. Thank you for your interest in supporting WePAC libraries and the children we serve!
I am not available to volunteer during the school day. How else can I support WePAC?
WePAC activates its Volunteer Council for various volunteering opportunities throughout the year. This may include everything from helping with grant writing, coordinating micro-fundraising opportunities, assisting with events, doing data entry, sorting and distributing books, and more. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org about whether we have any current Volunteer Council opportunities!
If volunteers staff the programs, why does WePAC need financial support?
We get this question a lot! As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, WePAC has many of the same expenses as any small business. We pay for office space, insurance, phone service, internet, hardware and software, copier, office supplies, staff salaries, payroll taxes, payroll services, state-mandated fees, postage and more. Our small staff recruits volunteers, orients and trains them, interfaces with our schools, coordinates with our partners, guides curriculum, fundraises, manages our finances, troubleshoots, and otherwise keeps very busy! WePAC works diligently to keep its costs as low as possible. We are very mindful of the fact that our supporters rely on us to make the best use of their donations, and we are grateful for their investment in us. Would you consider supporting us financially today?