Los Alamos Community Has Supplied And Shipped Some 75,000 Books To Africa Since 2016

Children read books sent to their school library by the African Library Project. Courtesy photo

A little boy delights in a book he received through the African Library Project. Courtesy photo

African Library Project

Service projects may be a bit more difficult but certainly not impossible during a pandemic – and Kiwanis proved it yet again! It just happens to be National Reading Month, so on March 4 and 5, very small groups of 4-5 volunteers spread way out at the Karen McLaughlin Hall at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church to pack books, books, and more books for the African Library Project.

Book donations have been steady and high all throughout the pandemic as people are staying home and cleaning out! Barranca Mesa Elementary School librarian, Erin Manzanares, generously donated hundreds of books that wouldn’t fit into the new school library, which has less shelf space than the old library.

Five school libraries of 1200 books each were shipped to Kenya during January.

”I packed all those myself while trying to isolate”, said Sharon Allen, coordinator of the project which has been ongoing in Los Alamos for the past five years. “It really is a job in which ‘many hands make light work’ so when the opportunity arose to get some help from my Kiwanis colleagues, I jumped at the offer!” 

Hauling the many, many boxes of donated books to the packing site was only possible because of the help of my son Ben and a Kiwanis volunteer, Don Casperson. Two libraries of packed books (36 boxes) were taken immediately to the Los Alamos Post Office for shipping to Botswana. The many additional boxes of books that were packed will be sent to schools in Malawi and Lesotho in the next few months.

Fun fact: Since the fall of 2016, the Los Alamos community has provided the books and shipping funds for 68 school libraries (about 75,000 books!) all over Africa. This project is ongoing and donations to fund shipping are always needed. Please contact Cheryl Pongratz of Kiwanis at Cheryl@losalamos.com or Sharon Allen at allenfamily926@gmail.com to make a donation. And thank you, Los Alamos citizens, for helping make reading FUN and books accessible to Africa’s children!