The mission of
Books to Prisoners:

  • to provide books to inmates in Illinois by recycling donated books
  • to facilitate a quality volunteer experience
  • to offer a venue for inmates to tell their own stories
  • to educate ourselves and our community about prisons

UC Books to Prisoners March 2011 Newsletter

Round Up at Common Ground

In March, shop at the Common Ground Food Co-op and Round Up for Books to Prisoners. For every $2 Common Ground shoppers donate, BTP volunteers will add $1 (up to $1,000). Anyone can shop at the Co-op and round up for Books to Prisoners. Shop all month, and come out and say hello to our volunteers on Saturday, March 5th from 1-3pm.

like us on facebook

Books to Prisoners Receives $3,000 Gift from Volunteer  

Tom Wiltzius first became involved with Books to Prisoners as a high school student at Uni High. His passion for justice met his technical skills as he worked with two other volunteers to design the database that we use to track prisoner requests. After high school graduation, Tom continued supporting BTP behind the scenes, providing free hosting for our website and, most recently, completely redesigning our tracking database. Tom graduated last May and took his technical skills to work at Google. In December 2010, he gave BTP a $3,000 gift that will be matched 100% by Google.

Tom said of Books to Prisoners, "Volunteering with Books to Prisoners has served as a reminder of the reality of the prison population and the necessity of providing educational materials to all individuals, incarcerated or not. As a university student I've spent the last several years of my life with limitless access to higher learning, and it seems a hopelessly modest request that everyone have something to read when they want it. Working with Books to Prisoners reminds me that this is not the case, and has given me the chance to do something about it."

Thank you to Tom for your generosity with both your money and your time. Perhaps you work for a company that matches employee donations. If so and you would like to learn more about donating to Books to Prisoners, please email

Tom pictured with former teacher and BTP volunteer Suzanne Linder

Community Groups

What group volunteers have to say about us

"While many people think of prisoners as cold, uneducated, or careless, volunteering at Books to Prisoners taught me otherwise. Many prisoners are trying to educate themselves, help themselves and grow as people despite the confines of prison life. As one prisoner said in a letter 'These iron bars cannot hold my soul in'"

-Alia Ferro, APO vounteer

"This is a really cool program. The inmates write nice letters and it's really interesting to see some of the topics and books they requested. A lot of the letters I read, the inmates were really apreciative of the service provided by Books to Prisoners"


MLK Community Event

Books to Prisoners hosted our third annual MLK day of service. During the two hour session we hosted 30 visitors and new volunteers, many returning as regular volunteers. Volunteers read and responded to inmate letters, boxed up packaged orders, and learned about prisons in Illinois.

One Volunteer's Story

This past fall Kim Hawthorne, a student at the Univeresity of Illinois put together a video profile of Books to Prisoners. Kim is a senior in Agricultural Communications and hopes to move to Chicago and work in communications for non-profit organizations. Click here for her story.




Upcoming Opportunties  

Spring Booksale

Our bi-annual book sale is coming up from April 8-10, 2011. Books are $1 for hardcovers, $.75 for paper back and $.25 for children's books.We also have specially priced vintage books for those who are enthuiasts.

Hours: Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 8 am-5 pm, and Sunday 10 am-2 pm. There will be a special bag sale on Sunday.

Location: Urbana-Champaign Independant Media Center, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana. For more information visit our website.

Make a donation by paypal.
A $3 donation will send a package to an incarcerrated person, $30 will send a package to 10, and $300 will send a package to 100 individuals.