InterContinental Hotels Group Employees Discover the Power of Books For Africa

When employees at InterContinental Hotels Group in Dunwoody, GA, just outside Atlanta, made plans for their annual community charity work, Kimberly Judson had never heard of Books For Africa, one of the groups chosen for this year’s volunteer work. A manager in the Finance and AR Compliance Department, Kimberly was asked to head up the effort in September at the BFA warehouse in Marietta, GA.

“I went to the website, and I started reading about it and I was like, this is amazing,” she recalled recently. “How did I not know about this charity?”

She scheduled three groups of volunteers, a total of 36 people on three shifts, who sorted books stored in large boxes in the warehouse. Before the IHG employees (IHG has 19 hotel brands including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express) arrived they either brought books from home or bought books to donate during their warehouse shift. Check out the great photos of the IHG group hard at work!

2023 IGH Volunteer Group

She described the work at the warehouse this way:

“Once you walk into the warehouse you get a better understanding of the magnitude and the impact this charity is having seeing the size of the warehouse and all the books. After having an orientation, we had a better understanding of our objective. There are these massive boxes full of hundreds of books that need to be sorted to get them ready to be packed and shipped off. As a volunteer, you are tasked with trying to determine where the book should go. BFA explained they have around 38 different categories a book could go under. There is a mixed bag of books in the boxes, so when you initially grab a handle full to sort you are not sure what you will be digging out. We realized these books were more than just a book, you need to determine the type of book (fun, educational, research, etc.) and then you needed to determine the age group. It was nice to see that provided books of all types to all age ranges, just not children. We knew we had to make sure the books got to the right category, so it could get to right group/person(s) to make the most impact. We realized during the experience, working with partner made it the process more efficient and a great way to connect with each other as well. We had fun challenging ourselves see how many full boxes we could finish before our volunteer shift was over. “

And the work in the warehouse had a big impact on Kimberly and her colleagues.

“Volunteering for BFA brought awareness to an issue many of us had no clue about,” she said. “We can pick up a book read it, put it down, and get another book without thinking about. To know that most of these children without the help of Books for Africa would never even see a book or have a book to touch moved us deeply. We did not realize the how broad the lack of opportunities expanded, to even a child not having access to books or being able to have a book of their own. Understanding that giving the younger generation access to books of all types at an early age is what will change things for them, and future generations is very powerful. This organization is having a great impact and to now know how long they have been doing this great work is awe inspiring. It was a great feeling to know you were a small part to help make a bigger change in someone’s life.”

She said she and her colleagues plan to volunteer in the future and she encourages other companies to do the same.

“We had such a great time and a lot of them said this was so impactful and meaningful to give back to a charity knowing that a book you touched could go across the world and change someone’s life,” she said.