Friday, July 15, 2005

Operation Paperback

I have found a relatively easy and inexpensive way to help our soldiers overseas alleviate some of the boredom they undoubtedly encounter from time-to-time. I am sending them books, used paperback books, through the auspices of Operation Paperback.

I found this group while perusing the America Supports You website, looking for a way that I could make a contribution which was more personal than just “cutting a check.”

The way it works is this; you sign up at the Operation Paperback website. They email you the APO addresses of soldiers who have requested that books be sent to them. You send them the books. Pretty simple, yes?

There are a few things you need to watch out for, of course;

First of all, a large number of these books are going to soldiers stationed in the Middle East or other Muslim countries. As such, you should not send books that have “racy” covers (racy, in this context, means showing a woman’s arms or legs). If it’s a great book and you want to send it anyway, take a black magic marker and cover up the “offending” portions of the picture. Trust me on this one. I remember living in Saudi Arabia and going shopping for books or other publications. If, say, a Newsweek magazine cover had a picture of a woman in a bathing suit on it, the “offending” portions would be blacked out with magic marker (yes, they did that for every publication that was sold there).

Second, many of the soldiers will have specific requests (Sci-Fi, or Tom Clancy, or Clive Cussler, etc.). Get the addresses and requests from Operation Paperback first before you begin packing your books. Otherwise, you’ll wind up like me – re-opening boxes and shuffling books around.

Third, they want only paperback books. If, also like me, you have a large number of hardcover books that you don’t want anymore, look for a used bookstore in your neighborhood where you can swap them (usually for partial credit) for used paperbacks. You’ll wind up spending a few dollars for more paperback books, but you’ll have more to send.

Fourth, consider using the Post Office’s Priority Mail boxes. You can usually get about 15 books in such a box and it ships for a flat rate of $7.70 to any APO address. It’s a good deal.

More details are found on the Operation Paperback website. It’s a great cause – support it.

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