Tag Archives: literacy

Operation Paperback

Operation Paperback

I have always enjoyed reading.  I take advantage of borrowing books from the library and I am a sucker for a used book sale.  Today’s organization is helping provide books to those in the military who are deployed far from libraries and book sales.

In 1999, Chief Master Sergeant Rick Honeywell was deployed to a base in the Middle East without access to much in the way of relaxation or entertainment.  Dan M. Bowers, Rick’s father-in-law, decided to help him out.  He sent over 800 paperback books to Rick, creating the first Operation Paperback library overseas.  Rick’s wife, Chrissy Honeywell, thought this was a one-time occurrence, but her dad had a larger mission in mind.  Dan put stickers in the books to let the troops know how to write and request books.  He also started looking for other locations which needed books.  This was the founding of Operation Paperback.

The mission of Operation Paperback is to provide reading material to any military who requests it.  Their original mission was to support deployed troops who were in locations without access to reading material or other entertainment, but today many overseas locations have libraries of paperback books due to the 14 years of help from volunteers.  So, their mission has been expanded to reach veterans hospitals as well as individual veterans and military families in the United States and abroad.

The Operation Paperback is incorporated in Pennsylvania and their administrative location is in the Boston area, but they have individual and group volunteers spread across the United States.

Each volunteer or group of volunteers collects, labels, packs and sends their books directly to a troops, veterans, or military families.  Many thank you notes are sent directly back from the military directly to the volunteers.  This personal connection is what makes Operation Paperback unique according to current administrator, Chrissy Honeywell.  You can see examples of the thank you notes sent from troops on their website.

In 2012, Operation Paperback had 16,000 volunteers and sent 20,000 books per month.  Since their founding in 1999, volunteers have shipped almost two million books to troops, veterans, and military families.  Occasionally, the organization sends special requests to their volunteers.  For the past several months, they have been supporting a Behavioral Health Unit in a veteran’s hospital with self-help books and other personal care items.  This special project has helped young warriors dealing with post-traumatic stress and other personal issues.

How can you help? 

  • Anyone can participate by becoming a volunteer shipper.  Once you have registered with Operation Paperback, you can use their website to determine who could use the books you have.  Then you label and pack the books, include a letter and ship the box.  You can send a single shipment or several, it is up to you.  Learn more and sign up here.
  • You can also make monetary donations to help support the program including website costs and special requests.  Learn more and make a donation on their website.
  • You can also help by spreading the word.  Simply share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, etc. using the options at the bottom of the post.

To learn more about Operation Paperback, please visit their website  You can also follow them on Facebook.

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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization


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World Book Night

World Book Night

Last spring, I joined two other members of my local Women of Today chapter to give books to random strangers.  We didn’t think of this on our own, there is an organization on a mission to celebrate reading by giving away books.

World Book Night United States is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  It was celebrated for the first time in the United States in 2012 and will now be an annual event.  World Book Night was first celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011 as a way to encourage more adults to read.

Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go into their communities and hand out half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to adult light and non-readers.  In their first year in the US, 25,000 volunteer book givers handed out books in 5,800 towns and cities around America.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading to those who do not regularly do so.  But I learned firsthand that it is more than that.  It is about people, communities and connections.  It is about reaching out to others and touching lives through the sharing of stories.  Each person that received the books I helped hand out was so appreciative and happy.  We had several conversations about books and reading.

The rules to the program are simple: give away all the books you receive.  Each of the volunteer book givers did things in their own way.  One volunteer, Suzie, said she went back to the community center where they gave out the book to have a potluck dinner and great conversations about the book.  Another volunteer, Colleen, walked back to where she had been handing out books to see people already reading them.  Heather gave her books to a local correctional facility and received a packet of handwritten thank you letters, one of which mentioned that the book he received that night was the first book he had ever read to completion.  Yet another volunteer, Chris Cander, gave her books to youth at a shelter for the homeless and runaway teens and then wrote about it on her blog.

World Book Night US is made up of thousands of passionate book lovers in America: Volunteer book givers who share their time and energy, the participating booksellers and librarians who host events, the authors who waive their royalties, and the publishers who contribute to the production and distribution of the free World Book Night paperbacks across the country.

How can you get involved?

  • The signup for the 2013 event recently opened.  First, review the list of books for 2013, then read the guidelines for the program and apply.  You need to apply by January.  In February you will learn if you will receive books to hand out on April 23.
  • You can also spread the work about the program though social media or sharing it with your community.
  • The organization also appreciates financial donations or information about foundations or groups that might be interested in supporting them.

You can learn more on the World Book Night US website,  If you have specific questions, you can e-mail them at  You can also connect with them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Goodreads, and Instagram!

Related Post: Little Free Library

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Milk + Bookies

Milk + Bookies

I recently read a report on the Social Impact of Volunteering by the Points of Light Institute.  This report states that “individuals who volunteer at a young age are more likely to sustain their participation in later life.”  The report also outlines several positive effects on volunteers as individuals; they see an increase in their self-esteem, enhancement of various skills and capabilities, expanded career path opportunities, and better physical and mental health.  Today’s organization offers one easy way  to incorporate giving and service into

The mission of Milk + Bookies is to promote service learning and literacy promotion.  They are a nationwide charitable organization based in Los Angeles, California that inspires children to give back, using books as its currency.

In 2004, Meredith Alexander had one small child and wanted her family time to involve something meaningful from time to time.  It was difficult to find community service projects or fundraisers geared toward families.  She decided to invite all her friends with small children to a lovely children’s bookstore on a Sunday afternoon.  The children chose books to purchase and donate to a local low-income preschool.  She setup coloring tables to decorate bookplates for the kids to inscribe their selections.  When the line to checkout was 30 minutes long, she knew that she wasn’t the only parent looking for this kind of day with their children.

Milk + Bookies is now a 501c3 nonprofit.  They promote holding events for kids to donate books to their peers who do not have access to books of their own.  The organization combines the two essential and worthwhile efforts of literacy promotion and service learning.  The events plant a seed of giving into the young guests which spark feelings of importance, self-confidence, and the desire to give again.

In just three years since becoming a 501c3 nonprofit in 2009, they have raised almost 35,000 books and inspired nearly 9,000 kids to participate in giving back.

How can you help?

The program is designed so that anyone can host their own event.

  • For $30 you can buy a Bookies Box.  This toolkit provides you with “I donated” stickers, book plates, bookmarks, and balloons for your event.
  • There are also toolkits for birthday parties, class projects, and other types of events on the Milk + Bookies website.  The organization will help you find a local organization to donate to if you don’t already have a recipient in mind.
  • After you hold an event, fill out a short post-event form to share your experience and help the organization track their impact.
  • You can also donate and shop for other Milk + Bookies merchandise on their website.

You can learn more about Milk + Bookies on their website, or by watching the short video below.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Related Posts: Read Indeed, Adopt A Book, and Little Free Library

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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Adopt A Book

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Books have always been an important part of my life.  I always had at least one shelf full of books in my room and my kids are the same, but not all kids have easy access to books.  Several years ago, I read a story about a teacher who asked her students to bring a book in to class.  Several students brought in a phone book because that was the only book they had in the house.  Today’s organization is working to get books into the hands of more children. 

 Adopt A Book

Adopt a Book is an organization based in Loveland, Ohio with a mission to provide new and gently used books to under privileged kids.  It was founded in November 2011 after eight year old twins Hannah and Alex.  They learned of schools in the inner city of Cincinnati losing the funding necessary to provide new books to their students and were shocked.  The twins are avid readers and could not imagine life without a book and asked their parents if they could start a “business” that helped provide books for kids to keep.  Their parents agreed and setup a 501c3 organization.  So far they have collected and donated over 7,000 books to organizations that work directly with foster and adoptive children, homeless children, and families involved in at-risk programs. 

How can you help?

The biggest need the organization has is books for preschool to elementary school children.  They will take donations of new or gently used books.    

You can connect with the organization via e-mail at or on Facebook.  You can also learn more in this newspaper article on the Adopt a Book organization.

Related Post: Read Indeed

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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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826 National

According to the 2007 “To Read or Not To Read” Executive Summary from the National Endowment for the Arts, 49% of employers rated writing skills as very important for newly hired employees who are high school graduates, however 72% of employers rate high school graduates as deficient in writing skills.  In addition, remedial writing courses are estimated to cost more than $3.1 billion for large corporate employers and $221 million for state employers. Today’s organization is attempting to make a difference in the writing skills of America’s youth. 

826 National is a non-profit organization with a mission based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.  The 826 National organization provides strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of eight writing and tutoring centers across the United States. 

826 centers are located in Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  Each center offers a variety of inventive programs that provide students age 6-18 with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.  They also aim to help teachers get their classes excited about writing.  In 2011, their writing centers served over 29,000 students.

The 826 organization was founded ten years ago by award winning author Dave Eggers along with educator Ninive Calegari.  They started by opening the 826 Velencia in San Francisco’s Mission District.  Their initial mission was to assist young people in the neighborhood who needed extra help after school with their homework and to assist these students with their writing skills.  They aim to fill the gap as youth reading and writing skills continue to wane.  Their programs include tutoring, writing workshops, field trips, and publishing projects.  In 2011, the eight centers served 29,060 students, 849 teachers, completed 959 publishing projects, and conducted 646 field trips, 387 writing workshops, and 1,537 after-school tutoring hours.

Each center is unique because the students enter through a whimsically themed retail storefront.  The San Francisco location sells supplies for the working pirate, in New York they sell superhero supplies, Los Angeles has a Time Travel Mart, and the Ann Arbor store fills your robot supply needs.  You can see photos of each unique storefront here.

You can see a video about the 826 centers here: 

How can you help?

Each of the centers are always looking for volunteers to help with after-school tutoring, leading educational Storytelling and Bookmaking workshops, in-school opportunities, and volunteer graphic designers.  You can read more about their volunteer opportunities on their website

You can also support the 826 National organization by shopping their online store that offers many unique gifts including their Emergency Novel-Finishing Kits; the Don’t Forget to Write collection, featuring over 100 creative writing lessons for elementary and secondary students; and 826 student publications, t-shirts, coffee mugs, snuggies, and tote bags.

You can also provide a monetary donation to the organization via their website.

You can learn more about the 826 National organization and connect with each chapter on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Little Free Library

One of my passions is literacy.  I love reading and I also make sure that my kids always have plenty of books available to read.  We frequent the library and own quite a collection of books as well.  So, when I came across today’s organization, I knew right away that I wanted to write about them.  Since I first heard about them, I have started seeing their name everywhere, including my local newspaper, National Public Radio, and NBC Nightly News!

The Little Free Library organization has a three part mission:

  1. To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide,
  2. To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations, and
  3. To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.

Some organizations begin with a grand idea and others start as something smaller.  Little Free Library began as just one library.  Todd Bol built a little library in honor of his mother who had passed away and placed it in front of his home.  It looked like a schoolhouse because his mother was a teacher.

While having a garage sale one day, he noticed that everyone was fascinated by the library.  He shared their reactions with his friend Rick Brooks and they hatched a plan for expansion.  The libraries serve as more than just a place to exchange books.  It connects people with their community and promotes connection with their neighbors.  If people meet at a Little Free Library, they talk about books and more.  It makes for a pleasant conversation that wouldn’t always happen on the street.

When I spoke with Todd, he mentioned that many people hug their libraries when they are first installed.  Adults and children love the libraries and are proud of them.  Most of the registered libraries are homemade – many are hand painted or built by creatively reusing materials.  Many of the libraries that Todd builds are made using items he has found around his farm including old cutting boards, quilt racks, and horseshoes.

When someone registers their library, they receive an official “Little Free Library” sign.  Recently Todd created his 1000th sign and placed it on a library made in memory of his father.  This library is right next to the first library in Todd’s yard.

As of today, there are registered libraries in over 20 counties – and they are spreading quickly!  These libraries serve as an augmentation to traditional libraries, not a competition.  They serve as an expression of how wonderful books are.

How can you help?

  • Build a Little Free Library for your community.  There are plans on the organization’s website.  Don’t forget to register your library on their website to ensure people can find it.
  • You can purchase a Little Free Library on their website.
  • Make a donation to help offer free libraries through various gift programs.
  • The organization also has a classified section on their website where they post things that they need donated or done.
  • Find a nearby library using the map on the website, then stop by and donate a book.
  • Spread the word about the Little Free Library movement – share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or wherever else you can to spread this movement across the world.

You can learn more about Little Free Library on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook or follow their blog.  They also have a Neighborhood Builder’s Guild Facebook page to share stories, plans and advice about building their libraries.


Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Pajama Program

Tomorrow is pajama day at my daughter’s school.  She gets to wear comfy pajamas to school all day – she can even bring a blanket or stuffed animal along with her.  It makes me a little jealous that I don’t get a pajama day at work.  Maybe I will work from home tomorrow and have a pajama day on my own.  Well, some kids don’t even know the comforts of nice pajamas.  Today’s organization is trying to change that.

The Pajama Program was started in 2001 by Genevieve Piturro.  She was volunteering at a homeless shelter reading to the children and noticed that they did not have pajamas to wear to bed at night.  Instead they slept in the clothes that they had on all day.  Genevieve came back the next week with 12 pair of pajamas.  She handed them to each child when one girl asked what they were and when she would wear them, Genevieve’s heart sank.  Within weeks the idea for the Pajama Program was starting to form.  She told everyone to bring her new pajamas and she gave them to the children.  In late 2001, Parenting Magazine published an article about the pajamas and new books that were being donated and suddenly boxes started arriving from around the country.

The mission of the Pajama Program is to provide new pajamas and new books to children in need.  These children may be waiting to be adopted, children in homeless shelters or temporary living situations, orphanages, or children removed from their homes for various reasons, such as abuse.  The program headquarters is in New York, but there are over 70 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Since their founding, over 1,000,000 new pajamas and new books have been given to children.  These books are theirs to keep – a book and a pair of pajamas to hopefully bring some comfort to these kids.  It doesn’t take long reading thank you notes from children who have received a Pajama Program donation to know that they really make a difference.  The Pajama Program also has additional programs for teens to help them express their feelings with poetry and to learn about money and budgeting.

You can help!

  • The Pajama Program website has everything you need to run a pajama collection in your community, school or business.
  • You can also donate online using a credit card.
  • You can find a chapter near you and volunteer your time.
  • There are also some wish lists on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about the Pajama Program on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Minnesota Blogger Conference

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Minnesota Blogger Conference in Minneapolis.  I did learn some new things at the conference and met some new local bloggers, but that is not the purpose of today’s post.  This event incorporated a featured charity to support.  Missy Berggren (aka The Marketing Mama) reached out to me to help select a charity to feature.  Read Indeed was selected because bloggers write words and the books collected contain words, plus it is just a great charity.  Bloggers brought new and used books to donate and a local photographer, Glimpses of Soul Photography, took headshots and monetary donations to Read Indeed.  The early results were tabulated at over 100 books and at least $325 collected.

If you plan events or gatherings, I encourage you to bring a charity or giving back component to the event.  It is easy for participants to bring a donation to a local organization and each of those donations come together to make a bigger difference.  In addition, this helps spread the word about a local charity. 

Please comment with your ideas or examples of ways you have incorporated giving back into your events.

Update: The final count was 201 books and $370 in donations to Read Indeed. 


Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Other


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Donors Choose

Today’s public schools often lack resources for students to thrive.  Teachers and parents try to make a difference through donations and fundraisers, but many times that isn’t enough.  Today’s organization works to make it easy for any individual to make a big difference in education, one classroom at a time.

The mission at is to improve public education by empowering every teacher to be a change-maker and enabling any citizen to be a philanthropist.  Their vision is a nation where students in every community have the resources they need to learn.

On the organization’s online marketplace, “citizen philanthropists” fund projects that move them, whether it’s books or beakers, for second graders or sophomores, in New York or Nashville.  Donors choose which classroom projects to help and they can also hear back from the classroom with photos and thank you notes. grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in public schools.  Charles Best, then a social studies teacher, sensed that many people would like to help distressed public schools, but were frustrated by a lack of influence over their donations.  He created in 2000 so that individuals could connect directly with classrooms in need.

Since its beginning, over $73 million dollars have been raised and over 4.4 million students have been helped by the projects funded through this unique philanthropic experience.  Some recently completed projects include books for a kindergarten class in Rhode Island, real world math learning sets for elementary students in Florida, and new chairs for a second grade classroom in New York City. 

How can you help?

  • I would encourage every reader of this blog to search for a project and donate just $5.  Skip your latte today and make a difference.  Click here to search for a project.  You can search by type or location of the project.
  • Share this story with a teacher using this flyer provided by Donors Choose.  They may have a project in their classroom or school that could use some funding. 
  • If you live in New York City, you can volunteer with them in person to assemble thank you packages. 
  • Create a giving page to celebrate your birthday, wedding, or any other reason. 
  • Spread the word about Donors Choose!  Click here to spread the word by tweeting this post!
  • Visit to find additional ways to help.

Learn more about Donors Choose on their website.   You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.


Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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Read Indeed: Making the World a Better Place, One Book at a Time

Read Indeed

It is back to school season!  Some kids are excited for school while others are already counting the days until the next summer vacation.  One difference between those types of kids may be reading.  Studies have shown that reading forms the foundation of all learning and that children who read often (or are frequently read to) have higher self esteem, better relationships with parents, and a more positive attitude towards school.  Not all children have the same access to books which makes it difficult for them to get exposure to reading.

Several years ago a young girl named Maria saw that not all kids enjoyed reading as much as she did.  “I love to read and one day I asked my mom why some kids don’t like to read as much as I do,” she said. “My mom explained that some kids simply don’t have access to books. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, who can’t have access to books?  Then she explained how some kids in need have never owned a book. I wanted to change that.” 

Maria, who is now 10 years-old, wanted to find a way to make the world a better place and made a lofty goal of collecting and distributing one million books by the time she turned 18 years old.  When asked how the organization began, Maria says, “I did a small book drive through my school and church and collected about 1,000 books. Then I waited a few weeks and thought a lot about it and decided it was fun to have a book drive. But this time I wanted to have a goal of 1 million books. I knew that would take a really long time to collect it, so I set a goal of by the time I was 18.”

With the help of her mother, Maria founded the Read Indeed Organization.  As of fall 2010, the organization has collected and distributed nearly 400,000 books.  Over 90 organizations around the world have received books from Read Indeed.  According to Maria, “It is amazing for me to be able to get books into the hands of the kids who need them the most. It is so rewarding. I love it.”   

Recently the organization expanded from an operation out of the family’s garage into a warehouse in Hopkins.  The warehouse currently houses about 70,000 books which are being sorted by age level.

Read Indeed does have opportunities to help:

  • Volunteers are needed to help sort, count, and package books in the warehouse.  Kids age eight and over are welcome to help.
  • Individuals and groups can collect kid’s books by holding a book drive. 
  • The organization also accepts monetary donations on their website to help fund their warehouse space and shipping costs.  Donations are tax deductible since Read Indeed is a 501c3 organization.
  • Individuals can also sign up to receive e-mail updates on the organization’s website.

You can contact Read Indeed on their website,, via e-mail, or by phone 612.720.4694.


Posted by on September 12, 2010 in Nonprofit Organization, Volunteer Profile


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