As a corollary to our First Annual Literary Contest, we're having a drive until November 30, 2012 to get together books for the Women's Prison Book Project (WPBP), a non-profit based in Minnesota, which collects paperback books and workbooks as well as monetary donations to help ensure that the over 150, 000 women in the prison system have access to reading materials to improve their lives. Read on to learn how to help!
There are thousands upon thousands of women who are currently serving prison sentences in the United States. Over eighty percent of those individuals are actually serving for non-violent crimes, including shoplifitng and prostitution. More alarming, the majority of the individuals incarcerated for violent crimes were persecuted for defending themselves and their children from abusive partners. The WPBP site elaborates on these issues as well.
The point is that there are well over a hundred thousand women who need books and sometimes more than just an old best seller or something new from the New York Times's lists. The individuals that the WPBP helps are in need of books about the legal system to help them as they navigate through it. They're interested in self-help books and educational books that can help them learn marketable job skills while there. If you have old Spanish-English dictionaries, those, too, are needed. Additionally, the population of women in prison is heavily heterogenous. The WPBP wants and is looking for books about people of color, LGBT characters, and other marginalized cultures and groups. As budgets for prisons are slashed, the work of the Women's Prison Book Project is what makes that difference, what can still allow individuals who identify as women to improve their lives in prison and to have an outlet in a bleak environment.
There are several ways to help. I'm repeating their rules here, of course, but you can always check here for the WPBP's rules firsthand. Before you send anything, you need to very, very carefully read the rules. There are some types of books (hardbacks and spiral bound/books bound with metal coils) that are prohibited due to their ability to be repurposed potentially as weapons. Also, some subject material is preferred as opposed to others, and certain subject matter isn't accepted at all.
So, again, reread the rules carefully!
How to Donate:
A. Sending in a Book Directly:
First, this cannot be stressed enough, but do NOT send in hardback books or books that are spiral bound. Paperback books and paper-based workbooks are what you should be sending. Anything hardbacked or with metal parts to it (or cloth ties/ribbons) could be potentially weaponized and can create a threat to prison staff. Just do NOT send them. Similarly, some subject matter is considered taboo. It is preferrable not to send romance and erotica.
Second, used or new popular fiction paperbacks are a great bet, and can be sent.
Third, the best, most useful items to send include the following, most of which are non-fiction works:
- paperback mysteries
- paperback horror books
- books about people of color
- books about LGBT individuals
- books about the legal system, espcially about legal aid
- books about mothering, family, and raising children
- books about psychology or women's health
- self-help or self improvement books
- educational books about school subjects to help with GED prep (REMINDER - NO textbooks unless they are paperback/soft-bound)
- bilingual Spanish-English dictionaries
- books about acceptable types of arts and crafts (obviously something like needle point would not be applicable)
- anything related to drug and alcohol abuse recovery
- books about recovering from abuse and trauma
Again, any paperback/soft-bound popular fiction book, as long as it is not erotica or romance, is encouraged. Still, if you also have an old self-help book or book that can help prepare somenone for their GED or even an old Webster's Dictionary or bilingual Spanish-English dictionary, please think about sending those too. Nonfiction can really be a life changer for these women.
You can mail these donations to their address here:
Women's Prison Book Projectc/o Boneshaker Books2002 23rd Avenue SouthMinneapolis, MN 55404
It's as simple as putting an old paperback or two or, even better, buying one or two new paperbacks and putting them in a mailing envelope from the post office and sending them out to that address between now and November 30. 2012. In fact, if you let the post office know that you are sending via a "Media Mail Rate," you can save a lot of money as opposed to first class shipping. Do bear that in mind.
We're really hoping people donate physical books for this drive both because the prisons served by the WPBP need fresh reading material ASAP but also because we do know it's the lead up to the Holidays and sometimes it's hard to send money sometimes. However, we all have good condition paperbacks we've already read but probably aren't going to use again. This is a way for women who need them to get great use out of these old novels and nonficiton books.
However, of course the WPBP also takes monetary/funding donations...
B. Monetary Donations
If you wish to donate money for postage or direct purchasing of books, you can always send a check to the above address. The check should be made out to the "Women's Prison Book Project." If you'd prefer to give online, you can go directly to GiveMN.org and search the database for Womens Prison Book Project (leave off the apostrophe).
Final bits of information to know:
- If you have any issues or questions about the donation process, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns
- When you send in a donation, whether a snail mailed book or check or an online monetary gift, please note that you are doing this as part of the Legendary Women, Inc. book drive. We are going to be keeping a total so we can get an idea of how many books were sent in and how much money was raised during the two week drive.
- Also, we're indebted to our partners at Random Acts for helping to co-sponsor the event with us. Please check out their site and social media as well to see a world of innovative and wonderful projects that you all can become involved with!
Thank you and can't wait for you all to send things off to Minnesota.
The Board of Legendary Women, Inc.