School libraries across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have been weeding through their collections, including Skyview High School.
While worn text may not be appealing to some, Skyview’s Green Club has made it a point to find another purpose for discarded library books – the students are packing them up and sending them to Africa.
Lindsay Fagrelius, Skyview science teacher and staff organizer of the club, said 20 official members of the club meet twice a week and during lunch. They decided on the project of sending the book to Africa recently.
“It was all their idea,” she said.
So Fagrelius found an organization, Books for Africa, that will get the books where they need to go and into the hands of students.
According to the website, Books for Africa’s mission is to collect, sort, ship and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa and end the continent’s book famine. The organization is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to Africa, shipping more than 28 million books to 49 different countries since 1988.
“Access to an education is one of the only opportunities young people have to end the cycle of poverty and attain a better quality of life than previous generations. Books for Africa works to help children who otherwise would not attend school by supplying educational materials to reduce or eliminate educational costs,” the website stated.
The students spent last week sifting through the piles of books that Fagrelius acquired from the library’s give-away pile during library weeding.
Students chose fiction books that were no older than 15 years, and non-fiction dated before 2003.
Morgan Chesley, a senior, said she became involved in the group as a sophomore.
“I had been feeling like I wasn’t making any difference in the world, and Green Club presented an excellent opportunity to involve myself in something bigger than just high school,” Morgan said “How we treat our environment affects all of us, and even small changes can make a huge difference.”
She said something had to be done with the piles of discarded books.
“We see all of these books just getting thrown away,” she said.
The group has boxed many books in preparation of sending them to Africa.
“It’s difficult to say exactly how many books we’ve collected so far, as we’ve been measuring them by weight rather than quantity, but a rough goal we’re looking at is a minimum of 1,000 books,” she said.
Morgan and other Green Club students plan to make the project larger and involve others.
“We believe, however, that with the help of our schoolmates and community at large, we could definitely surpass this goal by a wide margin. The bottom line is, there is no limit to the amount of books we can send, as long as we can fund sending them,” she said.
Another aspect of sending books to Africa is raising money to get the books there. While some members of the Green Club packed books into boxes, others baked items for a bake sale held last week during morning breaks and lunch time, and still others sold the baked items.
Cookies, brownies, pies and cakes, along with healthy options including apples and oranges, were sold for $1 each.
In one week, the club was able to raise $90 during school hours and another $200 in local donations.
Along with raising funds and awareness of sending the books to Africa, students in the Green Club are also incorporating the project into other aspects of their education.
Chesley, Aurora Derflinger and Austin Craig are incorporating sending the Green Club project into their Caring For the Kenai projects.
“There is so much we can be doing,” Chesley said.
Khelbie Miller, another senior in the Green Club, said recycling is an important issue to him and his family. Aside from sending the books to Africa, he also wants to get younger generations involved in recycling.
He recently went to Redoubt Elementary, where his little brother attends second-grade and encouraged his class to get into recycling.
“It is good for the environment,” he said.
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org