Local Indiana University alumni chapters will collect donations of used books later this month for distribution to area schools, shelters and other organizations.
The third annual book drive runs from March 22 to April 5 and is a project of the university's IU Cares Month, said George Toth, a member of the alumni association's Lakeshore Region Chapter board and co-chairman of the book drive. The Lakeshore Region Chapter encompasses Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties.
Allied Waste, of Crown Point, has donated bins to collect the books. The bins will be placed at all 27 Centier Bank branches in Lake and Porter counties and at the 12 Strack & Van Til stores in Lake County.
This is the third year Centier and Strack & Van Til have participated, Toth said.
"Their office and store presence throughout Northwest Indiana makes book drop-off convenient and easy," he said. "We hope to collect between 6,000 and 7,000 books."
Although children's books especially are needed, Toth said any paperback or hard cover book is welcome. The group Reading Tree Books for Charity has offered to trade some of the donations for children's books, said Paulette LaFata-Johnson, book drive co-chairwoman.
"If people are cleaning out their basements or garages, we hope they will bring used books to our collection bins," said LaFata-Johnson, who is also director of alumni relations at IU Northwest.
Alumni members will check the bins at least once a week and store the donated books until April 17. At 9 a.m. that day, alumni members and students from IUN and IU Bloomington will sort the donations at the Gary campus' Savannah Center.
"We'll put a little sticker inside each book to indicate it comes from the IU Alumni Association," Toth said.
The books will be passed out to local school libraries, service organizations and family/domestic shelters, he said. In the past, those organizations benefiting from donated books have included the Carmelite Home for Girls in East Chicago, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County and Dunes Charter School in Gary.
Any organization wishing to receive book donations can call LaFata-Johnson at (219) 980-6869.