The Triad Foundation awarded the Ithaca Rotary Club a $1,000 grant to advance the cause of literacy through the Books for The World project.

Bill Hawley and Gale Smith packing books at Ithaca High School In the past year more than 11,000 children’s books, elementary and secondary textbooks, and medical textbooks have been collected, packed and shipped by local Rotarians to schools and libraries in South Africa. There, Rotarians unpack, sort and distribute these books for free. The shipping container is then transformed into either a schoolroom or library.

our favorite heavy lifters: members of the Alpha Sigma Phil fraternity, Cornell University

While most of the books are donated, funds are needed to underwrite the costs of packing and shipping materials. In addition, the Ithaca Rotary Club purchases children’s books at the Friends of the Library booksales when the prices drop to a dime a book.

Local Books For the World coordinator Janet Steiner said that half of the books were surplus textbooks from the Ithaca City School District; and that more books are expected to be available in the future. The club will also be returning to the Friends of the Library booksale in the spring. “The Triad Grant allows the Rotary Club to continue this project throughout 2012.” The cost of each pallet is $165; to date, the club has shipped eleven pallets of books.

In addition to volunteers from the Ithaca Rotary Club, members of the Alpha Sigma Phi, Iota Chapter, Cornell University, have provided the crucial physical labor of lifting and moving the packed cartons. Books are packed in groups of 24 cartons which make up one shipping pallet. Steiner estimated that the fraternity has moved 21 tons of books in the past year. Alpha Sigma Phi also contributed financially to the project by holding a fundraiser.

Challenge Industries provides both a truck for transporting the books and a loading dock for pick-up and delivery to the port of Houston.

Other organizations contributing to the project are:

  • Tompkins County Medical Society
  • Ithaca College Rotaract Club
  • Eagle Envelope
  • Nexus Books
  • Friends of the Library

For more information, or contact Janet Steiner