The Department of Book Reports was going to take a quiet day off, but I came across this diary from our Second Life friend Stormbear. If any of you are able to donate to his most worthy cause, Books for Soldiers, we'd be grateful.
If you are unfamiliar with BFS (Books For Soldiers), it is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charity that sends books, DVDs and other care package items to US troops serving overseas. (DONATE)
I started sending books to soldiers during the first Gulf War - many of my friends from college were in the National Guard and were called up for duty. I rounded up a bunch of old books from friends who were still here and mailed them to the Gulf. After 9-11 I knew I wanted to do the same thing again, but I knew I couldn't do it all by myself, so I put together a self-serve website to get the job done.
The way it works now is a soldier goes to the website and fills out the form on the front page and tells us the title of the books (dvd or whatever) they want. That request goes into our database of requests that is viewable by our army of volunteers. The volunteers read the requests and they fill the requests. "Oh yeah, I have that Stephen King novel, I can send it to that soldier in Kabul!" If a volunteer cannot fill the request, the charity's home office will. BFS has all the problems of a small charity and a dot com start-up.
Initially I thought this would be a nice 6 week experiment and the troops would come home soon after. That didn't happen.
Six years and over half a million care packages later, BFS is facing closure. Last year we shipped around $2.9 million worth of aid and are set to do around the same this year. But it will be the last time unless we can raise $74,000 - the balance left to raise for this year's operational budget and it has to be raised by December 31st. Corporate funding dried up in 2007, we have already hit up the Fortune 500, VFW, American Legion, Masonic Lodges and every other group you can think of. But now it is your turn.
But that is just Christmas. After that, we simply do not have the funds to stay open in 2010. Actually, we don't have the funds to maintain operations to the first week of January.
Joseph-Beth bookstores are holding a series of events to help Books for Soldiers. For more information about this and other community programs or author events at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, call 216.691.7000 or visit www.josephbeth.com.
Fall Fundraiser: Please give if you can.