Colleen Mondor has a request over at Chasing Ray. She's encouraging people to donate their ARCs and review copies to a New Orleans group that gives books to prisoners at juvenile detention centers in the area. She includes background about the program and spells out her reasons for thinking that this is something important to do:
"First a little background on why I think you need to donate your ARCs and review copies to kids in jail. First, keep in mind that juveniles are held at detention centers before they are tried - so many of these kids are just waiting for something to happen in their cases. More importantly though, crime in New Orleans is out of control - everybody knows it, we are all talking about it and shaking our heads and precious little is being done to change it."
"So, this is the part where I tell you that books matter (but you already know that) and ask you please to do something with the many free books you have that might just make the world a better place. I'm not naive - I know that a book can not cure poverty, or broken homes or a crappy education or gang violence. But I'm also not a fool and I do know that without some movement towards positive change, nothing will happen at all. It's easy to shake your head and turn off the news and go back to your middle class lifestyle with all of its clean countertops, minivans and trips to the Gap. This is the harder part, and believe me, I'm no easier to motivate than anyone else, but I feel like with the world going to hell in a handbasket, I have to do something - we all have to do something."
I know that some of you have other worthy causes that you support through your ARCs and review copies. I usually donate books to my local library, or to local community programs that give books to underprivileged kids (like the Mercury News Gift of Reading program). But I'll join Colleen today in asking you to consider donating books to the Books2Prisoners program. Read Colleen's entire post here.
One final thought: if this program really resonates with you, you might consider getting your kids involved in collecting up the books and mailing them off. I've seen several news stories in recent months about kids doing things like this, and I think that there's a dual benefit. Kids have more natural enthusiasm and energy, and if they get excited about helping others, things happen. And encouraging them to want to help others, while they're young, can only help move the world in a positive direction. That's my two cents, as inspired by Colleen. Of course, I don't even have kids, and I could be totallly off base. Consider it a tiny idea for your consideration.