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As some of you may know, I founded Books For Soldiers, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that sends books, DVDs and other care package items to any US Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine - for free of course.
Some of those books are college text books. Some soldiers want to work on their college education while deployed to the Middle East but some of them can't get access to their education benefits while deployed. So BFS steps up and donates the textbooks for their classes.
We have been doing this for five years now and it is a national disgrace that charities are needed to supply college materials to our men and women in uniform. We have also picked up the slack in other areas like body armor, land mine resistance boots (thanks Wellco) and even tube socks.
Here is how it works.
Troops can go to BooksForSoldiers.com and fill out the form and one of our volunteers will see if they have the book on their shelf and they will then pack it up and ship it off to the soldier.
I got the idea back during the first Gulf war when friends of mine from college were sent off to Saudi Arabia. After the 4 day war, most were stuck in the desert for months on end with nothing to do. I rounded up all my sci-fi books that were collecting dust and then raided my civilian friend's book collections and sent them to an Army hospital in Riyadh where my military pals were stationed. They then handed out the books to the soldiers on the base. I was receiving letters from strangers a year later, thanking me for the books. They were a good break from the boredom.
When the War On Terror started, I figured our troops would be home in a matter of weeks after Baghdad fell. I erroneously thought the Pentagon had an exit strategy and Books For Soldiers would be a nice six week project then on to something else. I knew I had to reach more people than I did during the first Gulf War - I just couldn't do it all myself. So I put together a self-serve website and BFS was born.
Due to the cluster fuck now known as Iraq, BFS celebrated our 5th year anniversary this past Spring.
The economy has been rough this year for charities. Local food banks are reducing services, women's shelters are closing - those 1000 Points Of Light that Bush Sr. proudly yapped about are being hit hard by the crushing economy. Financial contributions to BFS this year disappeared almost completely. I think the reason is partially because of the economy and the other part is the lack of MSM coverage of the war in Iraq. I can track rises and falls of traffic on BFS directly to the amount of coverage the war gets. When the statue of Saddam fell, traffic started to tank. By the next day we lost 90% of out traffic and it took almost a year to build back up to the initial level.
Starting at the first of this year, BFS started a robust fundraising campaign here in North Carolina. We contacted small companies and some large companies you probably have heard of. To date, we have received a stack of letters that begin with "we deeply regret not being able to donate this year." From our corporate donation campaign we have received a tad under thirty dollars from a philanthropy grants group in Winston Salem, NC. That was it, nothing else.
The BFS Board of Directors have discussed this problem for some time and have decided to have another go at fundraising. The Board set a goal of $70,000 to raise by November 1st of this year. If that amount is not raised, the site will close on December 31st, 2008.
If we cannot make the fundraising target, the Board will seek to sell the site to another qualified 501(c)(3) or close. We would also stop accepting new books requests from soldiers on December 1st, 2008.
Below are some ways of how you can help
1) Office party fundraiser - Coordinate a "Save BFS Day" at work and urge, beg, cajole your co-workers into coughing up something for BFS.
2) Have your company cough up some cash. We will send your company a formal donation request, just send us the company name, contact name and address and we will get it out right away. Send these requests to me personally (firstname.lastname@example.org).
3) Have your place of worship pass the plate (hat, kippah, whatever) for BFS. Consult with your church's leader about holding a "Save BFS Offering" one day this month. Checks should be made out to "Books For Soldiers." If they have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly to set up a call.
4) Visit our donation page and give what you can.
or by check
Books For Soldiers
2008 Fund Drive
353 Jonestown Rd #123
Winston Salem, NC 27104