AKAs begin ‘Operation Paperback’

The Beta Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. will be sponsoring a book drive this month to support “Operation Paperback.”

According to a document detailing its history, “Operation Paperback” began in 1998 when Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Frederick Honeywell was posted to a four-month stint in Kuwait. Honeywell, who found himself on a base with no recreational facilities, contacted his family, and they began collecting books to send to him and his fellow troops. Their work gained momentum and became “Operation Paperback.”

Since 1998, “Operation Paperback” has sent more than 200,000 books to American troops overseas. The books are sent to bases in Japan, Spain, Italy, the Philippine islands and many other nations around the world.

The campaign requests include mystery, horror, fantasy, general fiction, military history, Middle-Eastern culture, Middle-Eastern history and science fiction. In accordance with its “paperbacks only” rule, organizers ask that donors send paperbacks because they are lighter than hardbacksand cost less to ship.

Paperback books also save space as military destinations have limited storage areas.

The sorority will place marked boxes in various areas around campus, such as the dormitories and Coleman library in order for students to donate “gently” used paperback books.

Marie Triche, the education chairwoman for the Beta Alpha Chapter said the sorority’s involvement in the book drive resulted from research.

“One of the older sorority members e-mailed me some information that she had found about other book drives. I thought it would be a good way for us to support our troops,” said the 21-year-old criminal justice student from Miami.

Triche said they would also like to get people in the community, local churches and schools involved in the book drive.

At this time, the Beta Alpha Chapter has the support of campus organizations at both Florida A&M University and Florida State University.

“We got involved because we think it is important to support our troops in any way we can,” said Princess Matt, a member of the University’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

“Although they are involved in a lot of chaos, we hope that the words of encouragement and the entertainment found in reading books will help them get through the hard times,” said Princess Matt, 22, a senior psychology student from Orlando.

Donnie Garner, president of the FSU Black Student Union, echoed her sentiments.

“I think our support of the book drive is a symbol to show that we care,” Garner said.

“The books uplift the overall spiritual, social and emotional well-being of the troops,” said the 21-year-old sociology student from Ocala.

Troops who have received the book donations in the past have been grateful for the support.

In the document detailing “Operation Paperback’s” history, troops from the Lackland Air Force Base said, “Thank you for the five boxes of paperback book donations, books on cassette and videos that we received. We will make sure that the members of our armed forces receive your kind donations for their reading, listening and viewing pleasures. We greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

Triche said the Beta Alpha Chapter will continue its support of “Operation Paperback.”

“The book drive will be something that we as a chapter would want to do annually,” Triche said.

Contact Mika Cooper at famuannews@hotmail.com