Books for Troops, a drive inspired by a wounded veteran’s expression of gratitude at Tampa’s veterans hospital, has launched its third annual collection of gently used books.
Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts providing volunteer support for this year’s book drive for U.S. troops deployed around the world have placed collection boxes in a dozen locations in communities in northern Hillsborough and southern Pasco counties. Collections continue through Oct. 30.
“We are so excited about all of the community support we are receiving this year,” said Patricia Murphy, founder and executive director of Books for Troops. “Everyone is stepping up to participate in some way.”
Murphy founded Books for Troops following a May 2011 conversation while delivering magazines to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital.
“This young man that couldn’t have been more than 20 years old and had lost his leg in the war was thanking me,” she recalled. “‘Being here, remembering has been so hard; the magazines help me get through it; help me keep my mind off everything,’” Murphy said he told her.
“We chatted for a little while and he said he wished he had an outlet like reading while he was deployed,” living in a tent on the outskirts of a small village in Iraq.
Murphy said after thanking the soldier for his service, she stepped into an elevator and burst into tears.
“When I got home, I realized that this was a project that means something to people. It’s little, but it makes a huge difference,” she said. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve those that do so much for us every day.”
Since then, Books for Troops has sent more than 15,000 books to troops overseas and delivered 5,000 to local veterans.
There are restrictions on the types of books troops are allowed to read during down time. Suitable topics are action, adventure, suspense, mystery, humor and comic books. Books about religion, the apocalypse and pornographic materials are inappropriate.
It is important the books are in good condition. Some will be delivered to hospitals and nursing homes, so they must be clean, Murphy said.
To donate, volunteer or host a collection box, contact Murphy through the BooksforTroops.org website; by email, BooksforTroops@verizon.net; or through Facebook.com/BooksforTroops.
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