Class project collects tons of books for worldwide use
Searsport — Searsport District High School teacher and senior class adviser Martha Stamp said it "breaks her heart" to throw away a book.
Now, Stamp and members of the SDHS Class of 2012 have found a way to avoid wasting a good book while also getting them to people all around the world who need them.
Friday morning, June 1, SDHS seniors loaded boxes upon boxes of all kinds of books onto pallets, wrapped each pallet-full in plastic and loaded them onto a trailer to be picked up and transported to the bus garage on Prospect Street.
From there, Stamp said World Wide Book Drive personnel will come and pick up the books the seniors collected in the local drive and deliver them to the book drive's headquarters in Utah. World Wide Book Drive is a philanthropic business that has aimed to improve the recycling and distribution methods of used books since its beginnings in 2005, according to its web site.
"They go to countries all over the world and throughout the U.S.," said Stamp.
The book drive, a Class of 2012 project, resulted in the collection of between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of books on many different topics — children's books, gardening books, fiction and non-fiction novels.
"This is way more than I expected," said Stamp, adding that the drive was not widely advertized. "This town amazes me. I have no idea where all these books came from."
And the SDHS seniors apparently did quite well compared to some 400 other book drives that were ongoing simultaneously throughout the country — SDHS collected enough books to earn a spot in the top 10, Stamp said.
What Stamp said she most enjoys about World Wide Book Drive is how no books, no matter what their condition when they are donated, go to waste. Books that are appropriate for use in schools are sold, Stamp said, and the money goes toward covering the cost of shipping the donated books all over the globe. Books that are not in good enough shape for donation are recycled, and Stamp said adults with disabilities are paid to disassemble them so the pages can be recycled.
"Everything goes somewhere, there's no waste involved," said Stamp.
SDHS senior Raymond Barlow said he's glad he participated in the book collection effort.
"There are many kids who love to read, but they can't afford the books," he said.
Barlow, like Stamp, was pleasantly surprised at how many books his class was able to obtain for that cause.
"When we first started, I didn't think that many people would donate books," he said.
When asked if he would do it over again if given the opportunity, Barlow didn't hesitate to say he would.
"And I would actually donate books," he said.
Stamp said the drive was so successful that donations continue to flow into the school, even after the drive came to a close.
"I'm really proud of this community," said Stamp. "We've got more than enough books to do this again next year."