Thorns FC give back at Children’s Book Bank

The 12th annual Stand Together Week has now completed in Portland, marking a week of volunteering opportunities for the Portland Thorns and Timbers alongside their community partners. On Friday, some Thorns FC players went to the Portland Children’s Book Bank to help the nonprofit sort, clean, and distribute community-donated books to families in need.

Beautiful Game Network sat down with a few of the players as they were hard at work cleaning books. 

“[Reading] was something that I got into again like a year and a half ago,” said Thorns midfielder Taylor Porter, a player who also volunteered at the Children’s Book Bank during last year’s Stand Together Week. “It was my form of escape and self-care and it’s become my go-to instead of watching TV or always having such a stimulant like that. It’s something that I really love—living so many lives through books.”

September 8 2023; Portland, OR, USA; Stand Together Week – Children’s Book Bank Olivia Moultrie and Taylor Porter help restore books. Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer-Portland Timbers

Midfielder Olivia Moultrie shared much of the same sentiment, “for me it’s something that is entertaining, but also it’s something that is relaxing at the same time.” It allows Moultrie to disconnect and find something that’s not looking at a screen, but also “something that I can do while resting and recovering before going back into the rigorous activity that is professional soccer every day.”

Not all of the players read as thoroughly as Porter, who finished over 100 books last year, is aiming for 150 books this year and currently on track at 115. Defender Reyna Reyes weighed in, commenting that she likes reading, “not as much as Taylor [Porter], but yes…I do like to read at night before I go to bed, just maybe like 10, 15 pages.”

The book bank provides children up to kindergarten with home libraries containing a collection of 14 books, the reason behind 14 being to give children a better chance of receiving a book that will spark a love of reading. For the more advanced books donated, those books are provided to elementary and K-8 underserved schools to host free school-wide book fairs each June in order to combat the “summer slide”, when children can lose gains made over the school year. 

September 8 2023; Portland, OR, USA; Stand Together Week – Children’s Book Bank, Morgan Weaver. Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer-Portland Timbers

Quite a few Thorns have spoken about their love of reading, so it was no surprise to find a few of them at the Book Bank. 

Taylor Porter has found herself as the go to player for book recommendations from any genre. “Soph [Smith] is another big reader and so is Becky [Sauerbrunn] and I think eventually people just [wanted] to get back into it and they ask for suggestions and I’m like, ‘come to my office’ and I just give people recommendations and it just kind of spread a little bit. And I think everybody has really enjoyed the books, so a lot of people just started reading, which is really nice.”

A group of volunteers from the Portland front office, Thorns sponsor NW Natural, and Thorns FC spent a few hours cleaning and sorting books to be redistributed, or if they aren’t in recoverable state, to recycle them. Stand Together Week has a number of events so athletes are able to truly use their interests to drive community interest. 

“[The team] always talks at the beginning of the year [about] how much we want to do even more within the community,” said Taylor Porter in regards to the importance of community impact. “We have one of the strongest bonds with our community here in Portland, so we always want to give back in any way we can. [The Thorns are] such a passionate team and we have very specific passions and we want kids or other people [who are] part of the Portland community to share those passions or develop some. We always get really excited for the Stand Together Week because it really allows us to really dedicate time to reconnect with our community and have so many different connections with people who we would otherwise not meet.”

September 8 2023; Portland, OR, USA; Stand Together Week – Children’s Book Bank. Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer-Portland Timbers

Reyes was very appreciative of the support that continuously comes from the community to the Thorns, and looks forward to opportunities to give back and show her thankfulness. “We love to give back [and do] anything that we can do because it’s such a supportive community for us.”

Although a lot of Thorns have jumped on the reading bandwagon, there has not yet been the creation of an official Thorns book club according to Porter, “there’s groupings of people [who] are reading certain books, so it’s just a little bit all over the place and very different timelines, but yeah, very unofficial.”