826: A Hip Way To Help

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By Michelle King > Sophomore > Magazine Journalism > Emerson College, Photo By Riley Blanks > Sophomore > Sociology and Studio Art (Photography) > University of Virginia

When acclaimed writer Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and screenwriter for “Away We Go” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” first tried to open a writing center to help tutor children, he was told he couldn’t open up a non-profit in San Francisco. Rather than walk away defeated, Eggers got creative and asked if, instead, he could open up a store. With permission granted, Eggers opened the “Pirate Supply Store,” which sells 

eye patches, compasses, skull-flags, and, yes, even treasure chests. In the back of the Pirate Supply Store, however, was 826, the non-profit tutoring center that Eggers had originally dreamed of opening. 
826 now has eight locations in the United States, with chapters in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Each 826 chapter tutors young students, ages six to eighteen, in writing. The goal is to make writing fun and accessible to young people through unique writing exercises. These exercises include having a “man in a nearby tower” (a 826 volunteer) calling a group of elementary school children on the special “826 phone.” He tells the children that he can’t remember how he got up in this tower and doesn’t know how to get out and asks them each to come up with a story that will help job his memory. It definitely is not your typical tutoring service. All services provided by the non-profit are free of charge.
So how can college students help out younger students, and maybe even get a chance to meet one of today’s hippest authors? The non-profit is always looking for students who have a passion in writing, literature, publishing, or education to volunteer. Getting involved with volunteering at 826 is surprisingly very easy and accommodating for students. However, a creative eye and an outgoing personality are needed. At 826, volunteers need to be creative and willing to come up with unique ways to make writing manageable and fun. Click here for more information about 826 and your chance to volunteer. 


College Magazine Staff

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