Cobb Collaborative and Local Girl Scout Troop Think Outside the Box to Collect and Distribute Books

from left: Mia Richardson, Elisabeth Vogt, Clarie Morgan, Laila Sain, and Cobb Collaborative Executive Director Irene Barton

Cobb Collaborative, which works with numerous nonprofit organizations and other agencies in community-wide initiatives, recently partnered with Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Cadette Troop 14404 to distribute over 1,600 books to young readers in Marietta.

“We have been fortunate to partner with several Girls Scouts on projects that benefit the community, so we were excited about being connected to Troop 14404,” said Irene Barton, executive director of the Cobb Collaborative. “But we had no idea that the book collection effort would result in literally hundreds of books being gathered. That was truly incredible.”

During this time of COVID-19, the members of Girl Scout Cadette Troop 14404 collected 1,752 new and “gently loved” books as part of a Girl Scout Take Action Project (TAP). The idea, initiated by four girls—Claire Morgan, Mia Richardson, Laila Sain, Elisabeth Vogt, and troop leader Linda Vogt—began in December as the cadettes were working on a marketing badge. They discussed how difficult it was for older girls to sell Girl Scout cookies and decided some type of customer incentive would help boost sales. They hit upon the idea of donating a book for every box sold. Their goal was increase cookies sales while also helping children. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, ending their sales early with roughly 600 boxes sold.

Determined to honor their commitment to deliver needed books to children, the Girl Scouts regrouped. Knowing that Cobb County students were scheduled to return to schools to pick up their belongings in May, the girls received permission from school leaders to establish book donation locations at Rocky Mount Elementary and Simpson Middle School and helped to market the opportunity. Coupled with neighborhood donations and word of mouth, the collection effort easily surpassed the original goal of 600 books. The Cadettes delivered the books, along with a check for $25 to purchase additional books, to the Cobb Collaborative, a member of the Georgia Family Connection statewide network, on May 23.

from left: Simpson Middle School Principal Ansley Daniel, Claire Morgan, and Elisabeth Vogt

Barton was then connected to Kiwanis Club of Marietta President Debbie McCracken, who has overseen the launch and expansion of the Laundromat Libraries project this year. A former Marietta City Schools educator, McCracken knows the value of getting reading materials in the hands of babies and young readers to grow language skills.

“Prior to pandemic closures, we were putting 75 to 100 books per month in each of the seven Laundromat Libraries boxes,” said McCracken. “We encourage families to spend that time at the laundromat looking at books, reading them together, and then taking them to build home libraries. This donation is such a welcome kick-off to June when we anticipate more families venturing out and safely taking care of their needs like laundry.”

Cobb Collaborative Executive Director Irene Barton and Kiwanis Club of Marietta President Debbie McCracken

As the local point of contact for the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, the Cobb Collaborative knows well the importance of access to age-appropriate reading material.

“Research tells us that children who live in print-rich environments and who are read to during the first years of life are much more likely to learn to read on schedule,” said Barton. “There’s a direct link between third-grade reading proficiency and high-school graduation. And it all goes back to early language nutrition and development. Having access to books is a huge factor in that life-long learning process.”

Irene M. Barton
Cobb Collaborative Executive Director

Bill Valladares
GaFCP Communications Director

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Cobb Collaborative is a membership of nonprofit organizations, local government, businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, professional organizations, associations, and citizens that share ideas, expertise, and resources to meet the needs of Cobb County residents. The Cobb Collaborative is a member of the Georgia Family Connection statewide network—the only one of its kind in the country dedicated to the health and well-being of families and communities. For more information about the third-grade reading initiative, as well as other work in the community, visit

Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) is a public-private partnership created by the State of Georgia and investors from the private sector to assist communities in addressing the serious challenges facing children and families. GaFCP also serves as a resource to state agencies across Georgia that work to improve the conditions of children and families. Georgia KIDS COUNT provides policymakers and citizens with current data they need to make informed decisions regarding priorities, services, and resources that impact Georgia’s children, youth, families, and communities.