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tanviBook drive organizers looking for creative strategies to raise funds for shipping and mailing may not think that ugly sweaters could be much help, but Tanvi Hathiramani found that Ugly Holiday Sweater Day was a successful way to raise money for a 2016 book drive at the Greater Miami Academy High School

“For a fund-raiser,” she said, “we held an ugly sweater day.  Students who wanted to wear an ugly holiday sweater to school that day had to buy a $3 ticket.  Not only did Ugly Holiday Sweater Day raise money for shipping the books to Africa, it prompted holiday spirit at the school.  It was fun!”

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Mira Wadehra1That is one piece of advice that Mira Wadehra has for anyone thinking about doing a book drive. The 16-year-old living in Cupertino, CA, has walked her talk. She organized her first book drive the summer of 2014 when she was an incoming high school freshman.  Three years later, she has started collecting books for her third book drive.

Mira believes, “You will feel very accomplished.  Knowing that you are helping feels really good.”

ALP Packing 1When Gina Finley, Librarian and Technology Assistant at Dublin Scioto High School (DSHS), Dublin, Ohio, was asked to help with a service project required for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, she said it had to involve literacy. Knowing the project must have global impact, she realized that ALP was a perfect fit for her interests and IB’s requirements.

The students at DSHS embraced the book drive project.  Many of them have an international background, including some from Africa.  Gina explained, “They feel they are helping friends in their own country while sharing their love of reading.”

Even students without an African background find working with ALP meaningful.  “I love helping others. I found collecting books hit close to home for me because my parents were born in Sri Lanka, a third world country that cannot obtain books and suffers greatly financially with a genocide going on," said Anujanaa Baskaranathan.  “I thought collecting books for African schools was important.”

For Ashley Robertson the value of the book drives was that “I got to share something that I love with others and promote the idea that everyone has the right to read and learn.”

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From 2008 to 2010, Victor Cuevas served in the Peace Corps in Lesotho. While he was there, he set his hut up with several dozen books.  He invited children to come to the hut and told them, “This is a book.”  Then he taught them about borrowing.  Some stayed to read.  The joy in their faces fueled his fire to start a bigger library.

Aware of the need for books and libraries, he worked with ALP to create a library in Lesotho while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.  When the first shipment of books was delivered for a library, he could see how excited the children were as they clutched the books.