Books by the Ton This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 25, 2009
By
Since 2002, I have been involved with the organization Success Won't Wait. This group collects unwanted or unused books and we, the volunteers, redistribute them. Over the years, I have logged hundreds of hours sorting, cleaning, labeling, repairing, packing, and transporting thousands of donated books. Last year I took on more of a leadership role and began initiating new projects by making contacts, recruiting volunteers, and organizing the projects themselves. Using my skills and techniques from years of volunteer work, I was able to make a real difference.

Recently I worked on a project for the residents of Lewis County, West Virginia, that will have a huge impact on its children. Adult literacy rates are low there, so encouraging the next generation to read is essential to the promise of a successful, prosperous future. I amassed tens of thousands of book donations and selected 5,200 for redistribution to the local elementary and middle schools, the neighborhood senior center, and the county's public library. Then, my family and I rented a truck and drove more than five hours to deliver them. As we unloaded the books, everyone there smiled and thanked us. They were overjoyed that my family and I had brought so many books.

The next month, I worked on another really cool project: The Duel on the Delaware Book Drive. Though this is always a big event for our organization, we weren't expecting the 35,000 titles collected by participants of the robotics competition. Each team vied to bring in the largest number of books. We ended up with 14,000 pounds of books – the visual equivalent of two elephants! The books will be prepared for distribution, and some of the children's books will be placed in baskets where children wait, like doctors' offices, banks, and dance studios.

Last October, I organized a large-scale donation to the A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children for their new Family Resource Center for families of critically ill children being treated at the hospital. There is a relaxation room, sleeping quarters – even a full kitchen. The space included a beautiful library area, but no books. So, for weeks, along with other volunteers, I sorted through donations to find 600 books.

Next, I recruited volunteers from my school's National Honor Society. On National Make a Difference Day, we installed these books at the center. The library now provides families, ­exhausted from worry, a much-needed respite from the anxiety of having a child hospitalized.

After this successful project, I was ready for another – this one geared toward children. Success Won't Wait had received a massive donation of books and other merchandise from a children's book publisher. Since it was near the holidays, I suggested packaging them in bundles for Toys for Tots with the help of friends, family, and regular volunteers.

When we were done, we had 800 packages, including over 2,400 books, for kids. It was incredibly gratifying and made my own Christmas merrier and more joyful to know that kids who might not otherwise have presents on Christmas morning received a gift of beautiful books that they could enjoy again and again.

My latest project was something new for everyone at Success Won't Wait, including me: recycle the unusable books our organization received. Books with ripped pages, water damage, or no covers had previously been discarded. But now, these books are recycled and even earn money for a local school. I was so excited to learn I could help the planet and hundreds of kids at the same time.

On Earth Day last year, I rounded up neighbors and family to help drive and unload recycling at the drop-off site. It was a huge success. Altogether, we recycled 2,275 pounds of books! I love volunteering because it allows me to make a difference in my community.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Cricketts said...
Dec. 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm
That's so cool. It sounds like the kind of volenteer job I would love. I'm definately going to look them up:]
 
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