REED CITY — Military personnel stationed overseas miss out on many of the comforts of home.  One of those simple things taken for granted, is the ability to just relax and read a good book.  Many times these soldiers are not near any place to buy a book because they are restricted in their travels.  One program has brought this luxury reading again to those soldiers.

Storm Williams of North Carolina had many high school friends that were deployed overseas during the gulf war.  Seeing that his closet was overflowing with unused paperback books, he decided that instead of selling them, he would fill a box and ship one to each of them.  He quickly ran out of books, but was left with many addresses of servicemen.

Friends and family started donating books to his cause and at that time about 1000 books were sent.  Williams received so many notes of appreciation for what he had done that he decided to organize a program that would allow others to help.

Books for Soldiers was created, in association with his church, to bridge the connection between soldiers and those who want to send books for them to enjoy during their down times.  Soldiers and troops sign up to the program and list what type of books they are interested in receiving. In turn, anyone, regardless of political or religious affiliation, can sign up to become a “volunteer”, which allows them to get addresses and requests of those soldiers or troops.

The Reed City Library has simplified this process for the community by becoming a volunteer site. Approved by the Library board, Heather Symon, current director, filled out the volunteer application through Books for Soldiers.

Once a month, a soldiers name or troop will be picked from the list and their requests for books will be filled using donated books or books removed from circulation, none of which will affect current book sales for the new library funds. Each box will then be available for “adoption” by someone in the community.  This involves filling out a sponsor application form, for record keeping, and a monetary donation of $13.45 to cover the shipping of one flat rate box.  A personal  thank you note can be included in the boxes as well and is encouraged.

As anyone can imagine, mail call days for deployed men and women are greatly anticipated. There are many programs available that allow communities to bring a little happiness to someone overseas through a care package.  The Books for Soldiers program , with the help of the Reed City Library, is just a simple way for anyone in the community interested in sending a smile through the joy of reading.