Volunteers spend Juneteenth packing books for kids in need in Africa

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A group of volunteers spent their Juneteenth in a Marietta warehouse, packing boxes of books for kids in need in Africa.

A book can take readers anywhere. To another world, another country and even bring them into a new story.

“If you can read, you are holding keys,” said James Hall with Books for Africa.

There were boxes on boxes, on boxes of books in the Books for Africa Marietta warehouse. Volunteers went through donations, checking each book for relevancy and damage, and were then sorted.

“Welcome to operations. We are the largest exporter of books to the African continent,” said Hall.

As they looked through the piles, they may have see books they read as children. Books for Africa representatives said the nonprofit sends between one and four million books every year.

“I feel happy. I feel joyous. I feel like what I am doing matters. I feel like I am helping. I feel like I am going to change somebody’s life,” said Books for Africa volunteer Ericka Smith-Sowell.

Books For Africa has been around since 1988. The work is made possible by donations of money and books.

“It is expensive. International freight is not a joke, especially at the rate that we are doing it,” said Hall.

“We raised over 2,000 books, including school supplies for the Books for Africa organization,” said Mehar Nemani with VT Seva Atlanta.

That is why the volunteers have decided to spend their Juneteenth, lost in piles of books, filling boxes for kids ready to dream new dreams.

“There are a plethora of things I could be doing right now but I want to be here today,” said Smith-Sowell.