UK fraternity hosts book drive for local charity organization

Alpha Epsilon has currently collected around 30 boxes of books from donors.

Akhira Umar

Alpha Epsilon is hosting a book drive to help local charity International Book Project. This will be the second year the honor society of agricultural, biological and food engineers is holding the drive.

The fraternity started this event last year under Carmen Agouridis. Agouridis saw the need for literature in the community and reached out to IBP to help the organization’s cause.

IBP was founded by Harriet Van Meter in 1966. The UK alumna was inspired by a trip to India, where there were few books available to the public. She then placed an ad in an Indian newspapers urging people to request books from her.

When Meter returned to her home in Lexington, she began shipping books from her basement to India upon request. Eventually, IBP was born. The nonprofit organization has since grown and now annually distributes about 200,000 books across the globe, from local libraries in Lexington to village classrooms in Africa.

Last year, Alpha Epsilon raised hundreds of books for IBP. This year, Jian Shi is supervising the fraternity. He gave all the credit for the book drive to Agouridis, but he is making sure to carry on the tradition she started.

Shi said that Agouridis thought the book drive would be a great idea for IBP and Alpha Epsilon because “students really get a lot out of it and have fun by doing this” and it’s “helpful to the community.”

Alpha Epsilon’s relationship with IBP may be a relatively new one, but other UK organizations have a history with the local book distributor. IBP’s executive director, Lisa Fryman, said that Alpha Phi Omega, multiple National Pan-Hellenic Councils and individual students frequently assist the book distributor by volunteering at the local headquarters.

So far, Alpha Epsilon’s book drive has already raised around 20 to 30 boxes of books, totaling around 200 books, and the fraternity is expecting many more. Since the fraternity is based in biosystems and agricultural engineering, the group is asking for books related to these fields of study. Faculty and staff have already donated past editions of textbooks.

“I have been surprised to see how many books people actually have to donate and how willing people are to do it,” Lauren Bell said. Bell is one of the four fraternity members active in the book drive efforts.

The fraternity is also asking that donated books to be in good condition and fewer than 10 years old. This aligns with IBP’s practice of distributing only the best books. Donations that are outdated, workbooks, magazines, religious texts, self-help or damaged will not be accepted. The book distributor is particularly asking for children’s books and books in Spanish.

Alpha Epsilon is collecting book donations until March 30. Donors can bring books to campus to be picked up by students at a set date and time or drop the books off at Lab 151 in the C.E. Barnhart Building after emailing Shi at [email protected].