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BOOKS FOR TROOPS, INC, (BFT) was started in southern Saratoga County, New York, in April 2010 by retired school teacher, Ellen Keegan who wanted to gather books to send to our troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, Her idea was to give them a source of escape from the horrors they were seeing each day; to offer them a release from loneliness, boredom, stress, homesickness, and fear; and to show them that they were not forgotten by those at home that they were sacrificing so much to keep free.
Books For Troops, Inc. also wanted the books to remind the soldiers of home and to give them the message of how grateful and proud we were of them. Our mission has expanded over the years since BFT has been in existence to include 18 VA hospitals across the US; the American Red Cross Wounded Warriors Program, as well as the families of the troops, in particular the children.
BOOKS FOR TROOPS, INC, was founded to send "care packages for the mind" to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by providing a variety of books that help ease their fears, loneliness, boredom, stress and to allow them a temporary escape from the horrors that they see and live daily. It was also founded to raise awareness of the sacrifices, both big and small, that our troops are making to protect us and to remind them that they are not forgotten.
Books For Troops, Inc.'s goal is to not have books be one of the sacrifices that the troops have to endure. BFT believes that books help:
Books for Trips could not have asked for a better book than "When Books Went to War" by Molly Guptill Manning to convince the public that books have a tremendous impact on the morale of troops living in a warzone, recovering in a hospital, or protecting regional stability in several parts of the world. Her book focuses on the use of books during World War II as the third major weapon that won the war, the other two being the men and their weapons. The government led by its president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, united the country into a Victory Book Campaign, organized by librarians across the country when the troops began to ask for books to sustain morale and to counteract boredom. Hardcovers were sent to bases training the troops and libraries were created on the bases. However the hard covers became a logistics problem when the troops went over seas because of their size and weight. The troops, ever mindful of the weight they had to carry, asked for light and small books that would easily fit into their pockets. The government commissioned publishing companies to come up with such books that would be durable and no bigger than six and half by four and a half inches.These books were called Armed Services Editions (ASEs for short.) 12,000 carefully chosen titles were printed as ASEs and over the period of the war over 120 million books were sent to our troops both in the Atlantic and the Pacific. Manning sites many of the responses that were received concerning the ASE's and the impact they had on morale.For many both at home and in battle they were considered very strong "weapons of the war." Marshall Spaulding, a major in the Army, said that books, "made life worth living for our soldiers and the soldiers who fought with ours" and inspired "that amazing spirit of our American troops. "Even units weary from battle, dispirited and drained, emerged with renewed vitality after convalescing with books." He goes on to say, " Even though they were trained to kill, and subjected to indescribable brutalities on the front lines, the presence of books seemed to verify that the members of our army are still human beings. Manning mentions that General Eisenhower in planning D-Day insisted that all men involved being given an ASE to help with the waiting time that was anticipated before the attack. Countless similar comments and reactions are recounted from all levels of military, the troops, the government at home, and the public. One of the unintended outcomes of the 120 million books being sent to the troops is that the number exceeded the 100 million books burned by Germany. The book is complete with pictures of the troops reading in trenches, tents, of the leaders of the movements at home, including President and Mrs. Roosevelt and best of all an entire list of all the book titles and authors sent. "When Books Went To War is a well researched and well documented concise history of the World War II, of the role of books in both winning the war and of them uniting a country in one goal of helping the troops to survive the war's brutality. That the government considered books so valuable that they included books as a necessary budgetary expense once more testifies to their value. The real impact of the book, however, comes from reading it in its entirety and seeing the expansion page after page of all topics mentioned above and more. The troops did have a favorite book that required two printings it was so popular. To find out what it was, you have to buy the book. Molly Guptill Manning will be at the Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center in Albany on March 21st from 1-3. I will be there in line to buy another copy of her book since I want to share it with every book lover I know and could never part with my copy. If you can't make it to the book signing "When Books Went To War" is on sale at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.
Books for Troops was formed to thank the troops for their selfish sacrifices by sending them books. Why were books chosen? Below are many quotes that answers that question.
"Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind." Robert Chamko
"To read is to construct for yourself a refuge from all the miseries of life." W. Someset Maugham
"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are." Mason Cooley
"To read is to construct for yourself a refuge from the miseries of life." W. Somerset Maugham
"The greatest gift is a book. It consoles, it disturbs, it excites, it experiences places outside the world around it." Elizabeth Harwick
"Books is a refuge from the vulgarities of the real world." Walter Pater
"Reading makes immigrants of all. It takes us from home, but more importantly it finds home for us everywhere." Joan Rivers
"Reading: Medicine for the MInd." (Inscription over the library in Thebes, Greece
"With books I am able to place my own concerns aside and curl myself in the cocoon of somebody else's imagination." Kate Kerrigan
"Every story is a ride to some place and some time other than here and now." A.A.Patawan
"You're never alone when you are reading a book." Susan Wiggs
"Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves. "Jeremy Folder
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." Marcus Cicero
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers." Charles William Elit
THAT IS WHY BOOKS FOR THE TROOPS!
Books For Troops, Inc. is growing everyday! We need your help! We now serve, the deployed, injured and recuperating soldiers that are in several of the VA hospitals across the U.S. and their families.
The troops are always in need of things to help them get through the long nights of nightwatch. Please consider donating:
All of these items are great reminders of home. You can drop them off at any of the book collection sites or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books in great condition soft-covered (can be dropped off at any book collection site), puzzle books, books on tape, DVD's
Money to cover postage (mail checks or money orders to Books For Troops, Inc., 152 Oak Brook Commons, Clifton Park, NY 12065).
Book Drives- For the first time we are short on books and are also asking to include puzzle books, books on tapes and DVD's. We need schools and organizations, or large companies to organize book drives to continue to meet our needs. All it involves is a letter to parents or employees, (which I can provide) and a few boxes place around your building for a specific period of time.
Fundraising ideas -- and even better the willingness to do a fundraiser!
People to help with mailings and/or move boxes of books from one facility to another. We are in desperate strong people to work a couple of hours a month to help with heavy lifting. You will really be making a difference!