Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means it's only right to remember the legacy of the man who fought for equal rights and harmony amongst all people. I decided to spend my Saturday morning commemorating this amazing legacy while serving the community through MLK Wildcats for Service program. Each year the University of Kentucky Center for Community Outreach hosts an Annual Day of Service event through the MLK Wildcats for Service program. The event grants UK students and organizations the unique opportunity to volunteer at a variety of sites within the Lexington community, without having to worry about the struggles of scheduling time slots or providing transportation.
This year I volunteered with the student organization Underground Perspective, which strives to build a social community with diversity. The site my group was paired with was the International Book Project. The IBP is a non-profit organization that promotes "education and literacy education and literacy while broadening Americans’ understanding of their neighbors". Each year IBP sends hundreds of thousands of books to schools, libraries, churches, and Peace Corps volunteers to places around the world and the United States where access to literature and education is limited.
Our main duty as volunteers was to help sort and pack a large shipment of books to be sent to college-aged students in Somalia. We sorted through large bins of donated books to find items suitable for the shipment. The selected books were boxed up and prepared to be sent out.
Here are some pictures from the volunteers site. There is a small bookstore area and even a corner designated for books about Kentucky history and culture!
One of the most shocking parts of this experience was facing the facts of the epidemic of illiteracy certain parts of the world currently face. When I pick up a book to read or do my homework, it's not something I think twice about. Yes, textbooks can be expensive, but imagine living somewhere where even holding a book is not a possibility. There's no bedtime stories being read or math problems being taught. Literacy is one of the key ways to solve issues related to poverty. Yet, the areas struggling with poverty the most have the least access to books. It's a terrible cycle that the International Book Project is helping bring to an end.
This service event reminded me why it's so important to do what I can to help others. There are so many people struggling and trying to survive without equal access to the resources that they need. Humbling experiences like these serve as reminders of how blessed I am to live the life I do and that I should never take it for granted.
The International Book Project really relies on its generous volunteers to help make its mission a reality. You can help by donating used books or volunteering your time to help the cause. More information is available on its website. https://www.intlbookproject.org/