Local bookstore gets volunteers to help send reading materials to an inmate in Texas

Always Buying Books received a letter from a prison inmate requesting books and turned to its customers to get involved

JOPLIN, Mo. – It’s been said that reading provides an escape and for people stuck behind bars, books can offer comfort through a difficult time in life. Always Buying Books donates hundreds of books to different prisons and county and local jails.

“I don’t have to, no. But we are put in a position we can,” says owner Bob Wolfe, “I’ve never been in prison or in jail, but I have a preconceived idea of what it would be like. You know if you had a book you could sit back for three hours and just get away from it.”

Recently, the store received a letter from an inmate in a federal penitentiary in Texas, requesting reading materials.

“We started a program that help our customers get involved. So what they do is we supply the books and the packaging. And the customers, what they do — pick the books up from here and take it to the post office and mail it,” says Wolfe.

Packages have to be post-marked from the bookstore. Volunteers pay for shipping.

“They’re sealed that way our volunteers won’t have their name on it or anything.”

The used bookstore was just hoping for a couple of customers to get involved with the Adopt an Inmate program, but about ten people signed up to help.

“There’s a love for reading and they see that. We’re not trying to change anyone’s life. We’re just trying to help their daily life,” adds Wolfe, “So we have good customers that want to support whatever we’re doing and of course the inmates.”

Several years ago, Always Buying Books started donating 100 books at a time to Jasper County Jail, and more recently the Joplin City Jail.

“Now these are all not to be sent back. We like doing that. My goal is to donate 500 books a month to those that are incarcerated,” Wolfe says.

Always Buying Books is calling the “adopt an inmate” project a three month trial, to test out how well things work with the inmate located in Texas. Wolfe says he is open to donating more books to prison inmates, if requested.