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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Two birds, one stone

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(10/2013) If you looked at my bedroom, you would never believe that when I was little I had trouble reading. Books are everywhere. On the bookshelf, on the nightstand, on the ground, in the closet. The written word is one of my passions. Thatís why, when I received an email from World Wide Book Drive, I knew I had to play my part.

Two years ago, my sophomore year of college, I started a Harry Potter club on campus. It was a fantasy book nerdís paradise, and like every campus club at the time, we were required to do at least one community service activity to stay in operation.

At the same time, my roommate and friend Olivia Gorman signed up for the Susan G. Komen Three-Day Walk. This event is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days that raises money for national research on breast cancer. She hit one snag in the plan, however. In order to participate, Olivia had to raise $2,300. That would put a dent in most peopleís pockets, let alone a poor college studentís. Her friends and family donated what they could to the cause, but it was a slow-going train to nowhere. Thatís when God seemed to intervene, and I received an email from World Wide Book Drive.

They were scouting schools for students or faculty interested in donating books to their cause for global literacy. At first, it sounded too good to be true, and as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I did a little research and looked into the organization. Everything I found was positive and from what I could tell, the organization was legitimate. And the best part? For each book donated that fit their (very specific) criteria, World Wide Book Drive would in turn pay us one dollar. The stars seemed to align. What a perfect way to raise money for Olivia while donating books to those in need!

I emailed the book drive for more information. A couple weeks later, four large donation boxes were shipped to me in the mail along with a sample flyer to get me started. With some help, I placed the boxes throughout campus Ė in the dining hall, the academic buildings, and even a residence hall. I redesigned the flyer to include information about the Susan G. Komen Three-Day, so that students could know the clubís dual purpose. I made fifty copies and plastered the flyers everywhere on campus and handed them out in my classes. We waited. Slowly, books started to find their way into the boxes.

Every day I peered into the bottomless boxes, hoping to find just one more book looking up at me. Some days there were and some days there werenít. Thatís when I decided that I was not doing enough. We only had one semester to collect donations, and only a couple of books a day was not going to raise enough to send Olivia on her three-day walk.

I started advocating among the faculty. After every class, I asked my professors if they had any unwanted books. I encouraged Olivia to do the same. Professor after professor offered piles of books for donation. As a thank-you gesture, we offered to haul the books away for them. I set up appointments with them and, with friends and bags and wheeled suitcases in tow, we travelled around campus picking up books. Looking back on this, we probably could have just tossed the books into one of the donation boxes, but we instead took the initiative to haul them to our room and stack them neatly against the wall. The pile climbed to meet the windowsill, and more books continued to trickle in.

The end of the semester rolled around, and it was time to collect our lot. We started by clearing out the book infestation in our dorm room, and then we made a trip around campus to each collection box. We heaved and hauled and tossed over 1,500 books into the bed of my little blue Ford Ranger until they threatened to flow over the tailgate.

Unloading the books was much faster. Everything from chemistry textbooks to Dr. Seuss was loaded into boxes, stacked on a pallet, and wrapped in plastic, just waiting to be picked up. In the end, the book driveís criterion was too specific for it to be a very profitable endeavor. I admit it was extremely disappointing when our $25 check arrived in the mail. Worse yet was having to break the news to Olivia. Despite it all, I still consider the whole endeavor a great learning experience.

Looking back, I think perhaps my two-birds-with-one-stone method was the wrong approach to take. When I should have seen books piled in the back of my truck, I saw dollar signs. Even though I did donate the profits, I still approached the book drive as a way to gain rather than to give. I was putting my friendís needs above those of the illiterate. Both are equally important, and both benefited, but I know that my motivations were flawed. If there was one lesson I took away from this literary adventure, it was that intentions matter.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones