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.