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A national charity has chosen University of Wisconsin-Stout as a starting point for a three-day event to help send books to Africa.
The UW-Stout Book Walk for Africa will begin Friday, April 26, at the Robert S. Swanson Library and Learning Center. The event is sponsored by the nonprofit Books For Africa from St. Paul.
After a kickoff celebration outside the library, walkers will head toward St. Paul along back roads. Participants can walk — or bike or run — the 68 miles or any part of the distance that suits them while carrying a university-donated book.
UW-Stout was chosen for the walk because the textbook rental program has donated thousands of used books over the past 15 years to Books For Africa. The university donates books that no longer are used, did not sell on the secondary market and otherwise would be recycled.
“We are trying to call attention to the great need for books for African students, raise some money for the cause and, at the same time, honor the good folks at UW-Stout,” said Tom Warth, the 77-year-old founder of BFA who will lead the walk. “We also hope the walkers will get some exercise and have fun.”
Warth has led many other BFA walks, including one across Minnesota and a 30-mile trek last year across Gambia to help bring books to that country in West Africa.
“UW-Stout has been proud to support Books For Africa over the years to help others less fortunate experience the joy of learning. We encourage everyone to get involved and support this special event,” Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen said.
Books For Africa is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to Africa, with 28 million sent to 48 countries since its founding in 1988. The organization’s goal is to end the continent’s “book famine,” Warth said.
The first day of the UW-Stout walk will end south of Baldwin. The second day, Saturday, April 27, will end at Nova bar and restaurant in Hudson and leave from there the next morning for the final leg to the BFA office in St. Paul. Participants are responsible for their own lodging, if needed.
The first $10,000 raised from the UW-Stout walk will help pay for a shipment of books to the home district of Alexander Ogundele, a UW-Stout alumnus from Nigeria who expressed interest in the walk before he returned to Africa. Ogundele was in the graduate program for career and technical education.
Any amount raised beyond $10,000 will support the Million Books for The Gambia project.
Participation in the walk is free. Potential walkers are asked to email Warth. For more information go to the Books For Africa website.
To donate to Books For Africa, click here. A donation of 50 cents provides a book that can be read by 50 children.