Appalachian Prison Book Project

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by Natalia Dutt, AmeriCorps Member

Every year the AmeriCorps members serving in the Tucker County area participate in a service project that coincides with Martin Luther King Jr Day. This year it was decided to do a book drive for the Appalachian Prison Book Project. This is a non profit organization that has made it their mission to fill the libraries of prisons throughout the Appalachian region. Since its inception in 2004, APBP has been able to donate over 20,000 books to inmates in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and Maryland. This organization believes no matter your circumstance you should have access to books. 

During the planning we thought instead of being involved in an event that only takes place on the day we could take part in something which not only raises awareness for a good cause, but also directly benefits the people in need. Access to books is at times something most everyone takes for granted, but being made aware of the lack of literacy options in many Appalachian prisons we wanted to do what we could to help out. APBP relies heavily on volunteers, donations, and book drives in order to keep their mission a reality. 

When choosing to have a book drive for APBP we half heartedly assumed we would only get a few books and would have to head to the local book store to acquire an adequate amount. However, the response we have experienced has been incredible. For nearly four weeks we have had bins set up around Tucker County we were able to collect over 100 books. Our book drive also coincided with another group raising awareness and funds for this amazing organization. 

The Travelin’ Appalachian Revue is a group that has cultivated a “zine”, a handcrafted collection of stories, poems and photos, from submissions all around the state. All the money raised from sales goes directly to APBP. During their reading at Tip Top the energy was unbelievable. You had a group of people from a variety of different backgrounds all there to raise awareness for an organization striving to make a difference. We are so incredibly grateful to the people who donated over this month! Though it may seem small, it truly makes a difference in the inmates lives. 

To see how else you can help with the Appalachian Prison Book Project be sure to check out https://aprisonbookproject.wordpress.com/