BRACK: Norcross High Senior in Eagle Scout project sending books to soldiers

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher |  A senior at Norcross High is focusing his Boy Scout Eagle project on sending books to soldiers overseas.  Luke McGahren of Peachtree Corners, who has been accepted at the University of Georgia next year, wanted to do more than “build bird houses” for his Eagle project. He hopes to study business and law at the University.

Luke says: “I wanted to make a difference. Then I heard of the Books for Heroes idea, which George Scott of Peachtree Corners started in 2003. And so we started collecting books, and getting donations to ship the books. So far we have collected more than 1,000 books.”

He’s seeking to get enough contributions for postage to mail the paperbacks by early next  year. Depending on the thickness of the books, he can get 20-22 in each package. It cost $14 in postage to mail each CARE book package.

It was back in 2003 that George Scott of Peachtree Corners began collecting books to send to service personnel. He had heard of soldiers in Iraq who had nothing to read. He says: “That really floored me. I was working at Walden Books on Holcomb Bridge Road back then, and I turned to a friend and said, “We’ve gotta do something. Let’s figure it out.”

McGahren

He remembers back then: “We thought it would be easy. We didn’t realize how crazy it  would become.”  Scott now works at Barnes and Noble in Peachtree Corners.

Scott told his idea to a customer, who wrote him a $100 check for the project. She came back later, saying “I told my husband about the project, and he wants you to have this.”  His check was for $400.  “He has served in the military,” she told him, “And he knows what it is like when you are overseas, and wants to help you out.”

In the four years of 2003-2007, Scott shipped about 12,500 books to soldiers, most of the postage for this out of his pocket. In 2007 the effort became a non-profit, organized as the Books for Heroes Charitable Foundation, a 501c3 organization.

Scott’s connections with authors and publishers kept new books going to the new foundation. Random House learned of it, and told him: “Let’s clean out some closets.” Author James Patterson has donated over 100,000 paperbacks.

Right now the main need is for warehouse space to house books before shipment. “We need space with a loading dock,” Scott says.” We’ve had to turn down books since we have no storage space.”

Scott knew Luke McGahren’s father, so that’s how the connection with Luke came about. While they are still collecting books, the main effort now is to get $14 per mailing box to send to the troops.  The shipping boxes usually have some space left over, and that’s where small items, such as Joey Wipes (unscented wipes), and hard candies, razor blades, deodorant and such items are often included.

If GwinnettForum readers want to participate in this project, books or checks for Books for Heroes may be sent to McGahren Law Firm, 6171 Crooked Creek Road, Peachtree Corners, Ga. 30092.

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