An ongoing book drive aims to supply incarcerated people with reading and educational material. The drive is a collaboration between the Appalachian Prison Book Project and Tucker County AmeriCorps volunteers.
The Appalachian Prison Book Project is a nonprofit organization that sends book to prisons in the Appalachian region. According to their website, the project budded from a prison literature course taught by Katy Ryan at West Virginia University. Since it began, the project has sent over 20,000 books to prisons in six states.
Alexa White is an AmeriCorps volunteer serving ArtSpring. AmeriCorps members are required to complete a Martin Luther King Day service project. “We needed to do something that was community involved that bettered the community,” White said. A project that supported the Appalachian Prison Book Project fit the bill.
“We contacted the Appalachian Prison Book project, and they said a book drive would be great way to support them,” White said. White and the rest of AmeriCorps team in Tucker County worked on promoting the book drive through distributing flyers and social media posts.
Leaflets around town read: “‘There are more than 11,000 men and women incarcerated in West Virginia alone, and most of them are living with few resources by which to better their lives. Books are food for the soul and the intellect,’ Mark Brazaitis, novelist and APBP board member.”
The book drive ends on January 31. The AmeriCorps volunteers will drive the books to Morgantown, and then spend a day assisting the Appalachian Prison Book Project.
The book drive is the first of its kind in Tucker County. “I think if we can get future AmeriCorps volunteers to continue the project in the future, I think it will really help a lot of people,” White said.
The AmeriCorps team set a goal of collecting 150 donated books. Donated books must be paperback. Dictionaries and how-to books are encouraged. Donation boxes are located at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Thomas Education Center, and Cottril’s Opera House.