Each year at our annual Diocesan Convention, the Deacons’ Award is presented to someone whose life and ministry exemplifies the heart of a servant. This year that award was presented to Priscilla Carrington who, with her team of faithful volunteers, has established and continued Operation Paperback from Christ Church.
Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide books and other reading material to our military service members at home and abroad. Military members may log onto the website and request books by genre. OP teams then select requests, box up books and mail them off. That’s the short version.
Books are sent to service members aboard ship, to those in countries where we have members deployed, to VA hospitals, as well as stateside, to witness to our gratitude for their sacrifice. A recent shipment saw boxes sent to military personnel in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and in the Pacific (Navy Gateway post office). These books are world travelers! Two special requests went to help establish a base library in American Samoa and over 200 books were shipped to Puerto Rico for military personnel sent there post-hurricane Maria. In addition, more than 100 books were sent at Christmas to the children of military families.
Over 90% of the donated paperbacks come from other than church membership. Local libraries donate paperbacks no longer needed; bookstores donate "readers", i.e., copies of books issued prior to publication; and individuals who are downsizing or moving donate their personal libraries. Two of our Team members routinely solicit and drop off paperbacks: Carole Jennings from The Village Library at The Landings and Barbara Powers from E. Shaver Booksellers.
The OP team has received a number of letters from military members who express their appreciation for the diversion from stress, loneliness and boredom that the books provide, as many locations of our deployed do not have easy access to the internet or television. Books are avidly read and passed around!
2,047 books have been shipped in the first ten months of 2018.
5,033 paperback books, plus a myriad of magazines and special requests have been shipped since in Jan, 2016.
Since 2016, Priscilla has assembled a faithful team who meet at least monthly to receive, sort, select, box and mail books. That team includes, in addition to Priscilla, Diane Belitskus, Carol Jennings, Barbara Powers, Sandy Brown-Yarger, Leslie Weichsel, and Claudia Seyle.