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Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

 
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Angels In Our Midst (Open Books)

Updated: Tuesday, March 19 2013, 11:01 AM CDT
It is a small, unassuming place that sits at the crossroads of Barrancas Avenue, Navy Boulevard and Gulf Beach Highway.

Inside the store is a beacon of light for some people whose lives are also at a crossroads.

The volunteers reach out to the least, the last and the lost; doing the work that only the Angels In Our Midst would do.

Voice of Volunteer; "I'm a mental health inmate currently in a TCU unit."

The usually simply worded letters have been flowing in from prisons across the state for nine years. A small team of volunteers answers every one.

Lauren Anzaldo, Open Books Prison Book Project; "How simple the requests are. You know, a lot of times the requests are, I need a dictionary."

Open Books Volunteer; "I do know know how to read or write very well and have to have someone to do this for me. I really need a dictionary and any other books you can send."

Open Books itself runs on a simple premise. The program takes in donated books and sends them to inmates in Florida prisons. They also sell books to the public at discounted prices. That income and donations are used to pay for packaging and postage for the inmate mail.

Lauren; "And it's as simple as that. You know, you give somebody a book and they're better for it, they're a better person for it. And so they come back into our communities and they end up impacting society in a positive way rather than a negative way."

Volunteer; "I would very much like to receive up to three soft cover, if possible, books."

Lauren; "I'm writing back to ask if y'all have any more great books. I mean, any John Grisham or James Patterson, Patricial Cornwell or Terri Woods; any of these author's books. Thank you very much. God bless."

The volunteers have answered more than 6,000 requests. They know that not everyone wants to reach out to the people they're trying to help and that's another reason they feel their mission is so important.

Lauren; "They're going to come back into our community and if they don't know how to read and if no one has every extended the idea to them that there's more to you than this life that you're living, then what good does that do for us as a society."

Volunteer; "I say, thank you for everything. And the books I know I will enjoy. Sincerely yours, Skeeter."

Lauren; "People write us some of the most heartfelt letters about how important that book was to them. They do tell us that that's the only piece of mail that they get."

Volunteer; "What you do is greatly appreciated and God will reward you for it."
Angels In Our Midst (Open Books)


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Washington Times