At one time, I was into wild birds.
I ignored my husband's constant complaints about having to weed-eat around the multiple bird feeder poles I had pounded into "his" lawn in the backyard. And I dismissed as signs of gratitude the many gifts left by my feathered friends after they had filled their tummies.
I bought book after book about North American birds and have continued to dust them off even though I have not opened any of them for years.
Those books came to mind after I spoke with Chassity Neckers last week.
Neckers, the director of development for the International Book Project, said the Lexington-based not-for-profit organization needs help in filling two sea containers with books. One container will be shipped in late February and the other in April.
Each container, one destined for India and the other to Uganda, can hold between 20,000 and 30,000 books, so we need to get moving.
"What we need most are fiction and non-fiction, informational and textbooks," she said.
Informational books could be about insects, animals, planets, the body, countries and people, or perhaps weather phenomena. And they can always use children's books.
"Once the shipments get to the destination, they disperse them, a lot of times for an entire village or multiple schools and libraries or universities," Neckers said.
The book project relies heavily on personal donations, although some bookstores have also been generous.
"I am sure there are schools and libraries that would love to give their books and we'd love to take them," Neckers said. "A lot of people don't know we are here and that we take books."
I wondered if the move to digital books was hurting donations.
"We haven't found that to be a problem yet," she said.
While a lot of people have embraced Kindles and other e-readers, they still have a lot of paper books. "I still like the feel of a book," she said.
The book project has been promoting literacy, education and global friendship by sending hundreds of thousands of books each year to schools, libraries, churches, community organizations and Peace Corps volunteers throughout the world and the United States.
Harriet Van Meter started the organization after a visit to India in 1965, where she saw long lines of people waiting for books. She placed an ad in an English-language newspaper in India offering to send books to those who wanted them. She began shipping books the next year from her basement.
The organization now sends not only small shipments but also sea containers. The overseas partners requesting a sea container must have the resources to transport, clear through customs, and distribute a large number of books.
Knowing e-readers could be the future, the book project partnered last fall with WorldReader, another global literacy non-profit, to send 75 Kindle Paperwhites, each loaded with 106 mostly African-authored books, that would be shared by the 33,000 local residents of Bakubung in the North West Province of South Africa. That area does not have a library.
To help offset some of the shipping fees, the book project has a bookstore in the front of its warehouse that offers a variety of books at low prices. A half-price sale is planned for March, which might be good to keep in mind.
The book project is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays for donations or for shopping. There is a gray bin outside the office for after-hour donations.
"There are more than 300,000 people in Lexington," Neckers said. "If everyone gave a book, we'd be set for the year."
I'll do my part with my bird books, and some gardening books that I have memorized and no longer refer to. Please look around your homes and offices and see what you can purge.
If we enjoyed them before, someone else might find pleasure in them now.