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.
For this year’s book drive for U.S. troops deployed around the world, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts providing volunteer support have placed collection boxes in a dozen locations in communities in southern Pasco and northern Hillsborough 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 after 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.
The young man told Murphy: “Being here, remembering has been so hard. The magazines help me get through it, help me keep my mind off everything.”
Murphy said she and the veteran chatted a while longer “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 downtime.
Suitable topics are action, adventure, suspense, mystery, humor and comic books.
It is important that 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 BooksforTroops.org, Facebook.com/BooksforTroops, or at [email protected]
Books for Troops 2013 collection sites
Land O’ Lakes
Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway, (813) 929-1220
Stagecoach Clubhouse, 3632 Mossy Oak Circle
Ballantrae Clubhouse, 17611 Mentmore Blvd.
Oakstead Clubhouse, 3038 Oakstead Blvd.
Country Walk Clubhouse, 30400 Country Point Blvd.
Grand Hampton Clubhouse, 8301 Dunham Station Drive
Lexington Oaks, 26133 Lexington Oaks Blvd.
Meadow Pointe I Clubhouse, 28245 County Line Road, (813) 973-1671
Meadow Pointe III Clubhouse, 1500 Meadow Pointe Blvd., (813) 973-1671
Seven Oaks Clubhouse, Ancient Oaks Boulevard, (813) 579-5722
Precision Kia Wesley Chapel, 28555 State Road 54
Saddlebrook Resort Clubhouse, 5700 Saddlebrook Way, (813) 973-1111
Book Swap, 13144 N. Dale Mabry Highway; (813) 963-6979