The Harvard Planning Office (HPO) surpassed their book drive donation target for 2020 with a record of 390 collected books. The annual book drive is a university-wide effort spearheaded by the HPO Green Team with support from the Office of Sustainability.

Since its inception four years ago, all the books from this initiative have been donated to More Than Words, a nonprofit social enterprise based in Boston’s South End that seeks to empower youth who are in the foster care system, court-involved, homeless, or out of school.

Undeterred by the restrictions of physical event planning, staff members at the HPO held the book drive remotely this year by directing donations to More Than Words donation bins throughout the region. In order to foster greater participation, the book drive was also extended from its usual one-week schedule to last the entire month of November across locations like Brighton, Somerville, Essex, Waltham, Salem and Harvard.

Maureen Blaufuss, a staff member remarks being surprised by the convenience and abundance of drop sites: when her donation bin in Acton was overflowing, she found it easy to search up a nearby site for the 80 books she wanted to give away. Her colleagues, Jim Nelson and Diane Gray echoed their own pleasant surprise at the availability of sites, especially when Diane was able to run into a colleague at her local donation bin.

Upon reflecting on the effort, Diane remarked that the “resilience” and accessibility of this donation network allowed many more people to get involved. Over four years, the HPO has been able to raise over 1,000 collected books, and this year’s total exceeds the 347 books that were raised in 2019, as well as the office’s own personal expectation of 200. The final result is a stunning wealth of words that will be able to make a big difference for youths and readers alike in the Greater-Boston area.