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January 24, 2007

OWU Students Give Back

For the second year in a row, Ohio Wesleyan’s Circle K members spent finals week in December collecting 30 heaping boxes of textbooks to donate to students in Africa — where up to six students currently share one textbook.

The Books for Africa organization, which has shipped more than 15 million books to 27 countries in Africa since 1988, set a recent goal of donating 1.15 million books in a year. With the high cost of shipping — about $9,500 or 38 cents per book — the organization needed help with its funding. That’s where OWU’s Circle K came in.

“We teamed up with Better World Books, which helps fund Books for Africa and other non-profit literary organizations,” says Sara Nienaber ’09, service chair of OWU’s Circle K chapter. Better World Books assists Books for Africa by donating the books directly to the organization or selling the collected books online to fund the shipping efforts. If the books are in poor condition, Better World Books recycles them.

Better World Books was started in 2003 by three University of Notre Dame students looking for an alternative to throwing out their used textbooks. To date the group has raised more than $1.3 million for non-profit organizations focused on literacy and education, including $900,000 for Books for Africa. Its efforts have saved more than 5 million pounds of books from ending up in landfills.

“It’s both easy and beneficial for OWU students to drop their used books in a bin rather than throw them out,” says Nienaber.

OWU’s Circle K chapter doesn’t stop there. Its 20-plus members are active in service-oriented projects around the Delaware community, including collecting food points for the local food bank, People in Need; working at the new Common Ground Free Store (on Central Avenue in Delaware); and, cleaning the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus.

The group meets at 8 p.m. every Monday in the Smith Date Study on the second floor of Smith Hall. OWU students interested in joining Circle K can contact Nienaber at sanienab@owu.edu.

Ann Bailey