Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon we meet to match requests with books from our large inventory and prepare packages for mailing.

New volunteers: Sign up in advance for one of our monthly orientations (alternating Saturdays and Sundays) from 1 to 2 pm. This is required. Also plan on staying for our regular work session from 2 to 5. You’ll meet with one of our experienced volunteers to learn about the group’s mission, the needs of the people we serve, and our process. Once you’ve been trained, you are invited to volunteer whenever you’d like. (Space is limited and advance signup is required.) There is a long waiting list as as we receive many inquiries.

Our main activities each week are reviewing letters from women and trans people in prison and selecting books that match the requests. This is the heart of the orientation, along with an overview of our organization and of the particular needs of the people we serve.

Each Saturday and Sunday, there are also other related tasks, including sorting and shelving new donations, packaging books for mailing, and weighing packages and applying postage. In the sessions you attend following orientation, please expect to be trained on tasks like these and to work on them instead of or in addition to letter fulfillment some days you volunteer.

There are also occasional projects such as research, writing and editing, organizing events, tabling at community events, and fundraising initiatives. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about helping in these ways.

Want to know more? Please email us at chicagobwp@gmail.com and note “Volunteer Training” in the subject line. Tell us how you learned about us and why you want to volunteer with us. If you have any related experience, please tell us about it.

891 packages so far in 2021

Packages carrying books of all kinds and composition books to women and trans people locked up across the country! (In 2020—with our capacity drastically cut due to COVID-19 precautions—we sent 1,964 packages. In 2019, we sent 5,117 packages; in 2018, 4,852.) Big, big thanks to all our supporters because we couldn’t do it without you, especially in this most difficult time. (updated June 14, 2021)

Donate money quickly and easily

Or send your check or money order to 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your gift may be tax-deductible.

Shop our wish list today

Buy books we need online and we pick them up—no shipping fee, no wasteful packaging. (Or buy a gift card if you can’t decide!) Your purchase benefits not just the people we serve, but one of Chicago’s best indy bookstores.

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