On Monday evenings, senior biological sciences major Melissa Z. leads the book packing program for Prisoner Express. 10-15 student volunteers come in every week for two hours to prepare book packages for prisoners across the country. Below, Melissa shares with us what the program is all about and how to get involved.
What is the book packing program? How does it work?
The book packing program sends books to prisoners all over the country. We get most of our books through donations or purchasing them through the Friends of the Library book sales. Then, we try our best to match the prisoners’ book requests with what we have in our little library. And finally, with the help of all our volunteers, we write personalized letters and send a book package to the prisoners for them to enjoy!
What is your favorite part of this program?
I love being able to interact with the prisoners and hear about their life stories. Oftentimes we are the only people they’re in contact with beyond bars, so maintaining our relationship with them and having them know that someone cares can make a big difference in their lives. The book program is also a great opportunity for prisoners to learn something new and provide them with something to pass the time while incarcerated. Equipping them with knowledge that would benefit them once they are released helps tremendously with their re-entry and reduces recidivism!
How do I get involved?
Come volunteer on Mondays from 5-7pm in the Durland Alternatives Library located at 127 Anabel Taylor Hall to pack some books! Or, you can donate books that you don’t need anymore. We accept donations of all genres, but we are particularly looking for books on up-to-date computer information, origami, how to art, and manga/graphic novels.