By Jano Tantongco
A 2nd Precinct police officer has launched a campaign aiming to help kids get a leg up on life by giving away 20 Amazon Kindle Fire e-readers in order to promote early interest in reading.
Police Officer Tom Arana-Wolfe is raising funds to provide the e-readers for kids in partnership with the nonprofit Family Service League, a Huntington-based nonprofit social service agency. The kids will read and briefly summarize a book each month chosen by FSL staff members.
“It’s just my way of helping these kids out... making sure they get what they need so they can succeed,” Arana-Wolfe said. “Everyone needs to know this stuff for the future, for their careers. The earlier you get the kids computers and tablets into their hands, the better it is.”
Arana-Wolfe began as an officer with the NYPD in 1997, but transitioned to the SCPD’s 2nd Precinct in 2002. He mostly works in Centerport.
Eventually, he met members of the FSL and began referring local clients who needed assistance, including those who didn’t speak English.
In 2013, when Arana-Wolfe missed the deadline to donate funds toward a program the FSL was hosting to sponsor kids to go to Hershey Park, he asked coordinators what he could do to help.
Together, they created a fall reading contest for children from low-income families. Participating children were assigned to write a short book report each week. By December, a pizza party was held for the winners of the contest, who were awarded prizes including a Sony PlayStation 4 video game system and two Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-readers, all out of Arana-Wolfe’s pocket.
Arana-Wolfe, of Harlem, said he’s since decided to expand the program.
He’s now offering the 20 Kindles, which he just ordered Monday, with the addition of a kid-proof carrying case, a headset and extra memory cards. Further, he aims to soon purchase an additional Kindle Unlimited subscriptions to add to the repertoire of available content for the young readers.
"Officer Wolfe has been kind to our clients over the years and we are very grateful for his generosity,” Karen Boorshtein, president of CEO of FSL, said in an emailed statement. “His contribution of Kindles helps these children develop literacy and enjoy reading at an early age. We are delighted to have him as a partner in our work."
Arana-Wolfe launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the Kindles, meeting $3,582 of his $4,330 goal, as of deadline Wednesday. As it happens, $1,000 of the funds raised came from GoFundMe itself, as part of its monthly giveaway to a select campaign.
“With all the negativity and hate being publicized in the news recently, your campaign stood out as it highlights the good in the world,” Stephanie Renzi, accounting manager for GoFundMe, stated in a letter. “We here at GoFundMe are inspired by your efforts to encourage kids to develop a love of reading from a young age and for that reason your campaign has been selected for GoFundMe Gives Back.”
Arana-Wolfe’s campaign can be found at Gofundme.com/2e66qbs4. He said that if he surpasses his goal, the extra funds will be used to extend the Kindle subscriptions.