Military troops serving overseas continue to spend some of their free time reading paperback books sent to them by people in Genesee County.
Thanks to the efforts of the local community and Genesee Community College's Student Activities staff, Operation Paperback -- the used book drive at Genesee -- has had more than 5,000 books donated. That amounted to 200 boxes' worth.
Operation Paperback is part of a national intitiative which collects gently used paperback books and sends them to American troops deployed overseas. Since 1999, Americans have shipped over 950,000 books to locations around the globe.
Volunteer groups to provide Operation Paperback with addresses of military groups overseas. Every week they receives thanks from troops who are glad to be appreciated and remembered.
The local Books for Troops initiative was originally the idea of Genesee student Tom Maniace, who used it as a required project for his Resident Assistant position at College Village. The response from the college and the local community was so overwhelming, that the Student Activities staff stepped in and lent a hand in sorting, packaging and sending out the boxes paperbacks.
Cliff Scutella, director of Student Activities at Genesee said: "The community was just so responsive. It was really a wonderful and heartwarming experience. People embraced this project and were enthusiastic about it. I had no idea the extent of generosity this community has."
The book drive took an immense amount of logistical planning. There were many steps required to ensure the boxes of books reached the hands of the troops. They needed to be sorted according to genre, labeled with an Operation Paperback label and a letter was inserted in each box. From there, the efforts of the mail room at Genesee and the local Post Office were appreciated since 20 boxes were mailed at a time.
Genesee is taking up another book drive this academic year. It will be offered in conjunction with Genesee's Fifth Annual Eco-Fest on April 17. Community members will be able to bring in their used paperback books during a one day drop-off at Eco-Fest. Scutella noted that Books for Troops is a perfect fit for Eco-Fest.
"Community members now have an outlet for donating their used books. It will go hand-in-hand with the other recycling initiatives available at Eco-Fest, such as the E-Scrap drive and the sneaker recycling program," Scutella said.
For more information, visit www.operationpaperback.org <http://www.operationpaperback.org> .
For further information, please contact Student Activities at 585-343-0055 x6261.