Thursday, April 2, 2009

DISPATCH :: Operation Warrior Library DELIVERS!

Lots of excitement here today as the mission has been accomplished. Thanks to some wonderful people, yesterday we were able to deliver around 700 books to 1 of the 48th Brigade's Infantry Battalions leaving for Afghanistan next week! The Battalion getting the books is the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry - commonly called 2nd Foot because of its descent from the 2nd battalion of Infantry raised in the pre-Revolutionary Colony of Georgia.

Here's how it went down.. The first step was to collect a bunch of books from great authors and here are the people who answered the call:

Jon Fasman * Tess Gerritsen * Meg Gardiner * Jason Pinter * Charles Bock * Daniyal Mueenuddin * Trish Ryan * George Mastras * Bob Drury and Tom Clavin * Lewis Robinson * Tiffany Baker * Jon Guenther * Robert Buettner * Angie Fox * Chris Ryan * Lily Burana

And here is how their contributions stacked up in my garage after we affixed a sticker. To give you an idea of scale - my son, Wesley, who is standing in front of them in his picture is 5' tall! Well, not really, but it's still an impressive stack of books.

So now we've got what's known in the military as a logistical supply chain problem: How do I get these books from our "headquarters" in NJ to Fort McPherson in Georgia. In the past we've paid to ship a few boxes at a time from our own pockets but this, this was much too expensive for us. It's a good kind of problem to have. While the army looked into ways to deliver, we did too.

What we came up with was UShip - my new favorite company. These guys let you post your shipment and then truckers can bid on it. Many times trucks have extra room, or are returning from a delivery empty, and it's always good to have a fare. Fortunately for us (and something I didn't know about until I was filling out their simple forms) they have a charity option. This lets drivers know that they might consider bidding less than the usually would. I posted on a Tuesday night. Within a day I had several offers to do it for almost next to nothing. But on Friday, I heard from Jacqueline Wilts, who was in my part of the world and heading south. Jacqueline could be at "headquarters" in a few hours and would deliver the books for nothing. Zero. Zip.

A few hours later, as good as her word, the truck rumbled up and out popped Ms. Wilts and her daughter Emmy who was spending spring break on the road with Mom. Here they are with my wife, Audrey...

...and a few of their other traveling companions.

Off to work we went...

...and, soon enough, the books were ready to go.

Yesterday, Jacqueline delivered the books into the care of Major Robert Davis who has been helping us distribute the books on his end. He tells me that the books that aren't going out next week with 2nd Foot will be distributed amongst the rest of the 48th Brigade. Several cases of Lily Burana's book, I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM, will be delivered to Family Readiness Groups (really the wives groups) to distribute to their members as Lily had hoped they would.

Each book has a sticker on it with our logo. The stickers also invite the troops to join the authors and discuss the books with them in a special forum which we've just kicked off.

Here's what you can do to help. Obviously the books the authors have donated are books they can't sell. You can buy their books, support them, as they support the troops. You can find all the OWL authors in our OWL Store. Any proceeds from any sales there go directly to helping us send more books. Also, consider UShip the next time you buy a jukebox from ebay.

Sometime very soon I'll be able to post photos from Major Davis of the troops receiving the books. Stay tuned. And if you're an author and want to kick in contact us as warriorlibrary [at] gmail [dot] com.

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