The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit group Operation Paperback has been collecting used books nationwide and sending them to American troops stationed at military bases in the U.S. and deployed overseas since 1999. The in Fort Lee has been participating in the program for about three weeks—since Memorial Day, as Rev. Allison Moore points out.
Moore said the idea to take part this year came about when one of the church’s parishioners, whose daughter is a police officer in New York City, told her about the precinct collecting books as part of Operation Paperback.
Moore thought it was “a good idea for the church” and also saw it as an opportunity to promote the Good Shepherd’s involvement in the community.
“I want the church to be of use to Fort Lee,” Moore explained. “And I want people who aren’t going to come on Sunday mornings to find us a useful institution in the community.”
Moore, who openly admits that she’s a peace activist and opposes war, says that doesn’t mean she isn’t an active supporter of American troops and their families.
“Just because I work for peace, and I think the best way to support the troops is to bring them home … you can want peace and still support the troops,” she said, adding that she hopes the families of those troops benefit from the program as well, and that she believes it’s important that “the men and women who are staying home also feel supported.”
“Often we’re clear about honoring the soldiers, but the families are also making huge sacrifices,” Moore said. “This is not proselytizing, it’s just [saying to the troops], ‘I’m sure there are some days when you’re bored,’ and also, I think, ‘somebody cares about you; here’s a package.’ There’s a piece of, ‘you’re not in this alone.’ I think there’s a real bifurcation between veterans and civilians, and there’s lots of stuff that soldiers can’t say when they come back, and there’s lots of stuff that civilians don’t want to hear. And I think it would change our attitude towards war if we were more able to listen to what men and women who’ve been there have to say.”
The Church of the Good Shepherd will be accepting donations of “gently used” paperbacks through Sunday. Anyone who wishes to donate can bring the books to the church at 1576 Palisade Ave. any time until Sunday and leave them in the vestibule of the Gressle building—the last door on the left as you face the church.
Moore says that in its first year participating in Operation Paperback, the church has no particular goal in mind, but that they’ve collected about 100 books so far.
“We made 12 paint boxes that all have the little sign on it,” she said. “And if we fill those, that would be great.”