If you’re interested in volunteering please e-mail, call, or text to get in touch about available hours: midwestppp [at] gmail.com & 812-727-0155.
What Volunteers Do
The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project is entirely volunteer run, so your volunteer power, experience, and perspective is absolutely essential! Many volunteers just show up for a few hours once a week or once every other week. Some come on a weekly basis, or take on special responsibilities with the project. The tasks that most of our volunteers do are relatively simple, but require a lot of creative and critical thinking. Most volunteers help by reading letters from people in prison who are requesting books from our project. They then search the shelves of our project, filled with books that have been donated by members of our community, to find books that appropriately match what the person in prison is looking for and package them with a personal response to the person in prison.
Other volunteer (specialized) skills typically accumulated after a few- several sessions:
Monitoring – Volunteer monitors learn the ins and outs of everything at pages. They then help train new volunteers, troubleshoot questions, and just make Pages run smoothly during our weekly volunteer sessions.
Package Mailing – Take packages to the post office. You will take crates of packaged books from the Pages space to the bulk mailing desk at the post office in downtown Bloomington. This requires a time commitment of 1 hour every week or every two weeks. This also requires the ability to lift crates of books (they’re heavier than they look!) and access to a car.
Special Requests – Scour local used book stores, library book sales, thrift stores, the personal collections of folks in your social network, internet book swapping sites, and sites like Amazon and Half.com for books that have been requested but can’t be filled from our collection. Volunteers filling special requests will also help to find books for programs inside prisons and jails like bibliotherapy groups, prison libraries, and discussion groups.
Sorting Donations – Look through books donated to us and decide what we can use, what we can sell as a fundraiser on the Internet, what we can donate. Volunteers sorting donations should have some experience filling letters to have a handle on what books are frequently requested from the project.
Internet Book Sales – One of our primary fundraisers is selling books that have been donated to us but that we cannot send, or are rarely requested on an Internet book sale site. Volunteers helping with this will post newly donated books on the Internet and package and mail orders.
Database/Web Developer – Add features and fix bugs for Pages’ database system. Volunteers for this need not be located in the Bloomington area. The database code is written in Python using the Django framework. Volunteers wanting to help maintain the software should feel comfortable coding in Python or willing to teach themselves.