The Altrusa Club of Statesboro has donated 9,500 books to children this year. This gives the club a cumulative total just over 70,000 book donations since the program began.

Altrusa member Ruth MacKinnon began the book giveaway project and Karen Lavender has also played an instrumental role in the leadership of the program.

Ruth Mackinnon

The book giveaway literacy program began ten years ago by distributing books to children at Mill Creek and Langston Chapel schools every two months.

Karen Lavender

The idea was to include a free book in the backpack of food given to children every Friday who may not have enough food to get them through the weekend.

This project, known as backpack buddies is coordinated by local churches.

Altrusa now give free books to children from PreK to 5th grade reaching every school in Bulloch County. This amounts to around 1,000 free books per month Altrusa gives away.

Children are identified by school counselors who proved the organization with a number of books needed by school every fall.

Why Give Free Books to Children

According to research shared by Altrusa there is still much work to be done to combat literacy in Bulloch County

  • 26% of Bulloch adults do not read at the adult level
  • 50% of Bulloch kids have 0 to 5 books of ager-appropriate reading material in their homes
  • Only 29% of Georgia 4th graders read at or above proficiency

How Altrusa is Funded

Nancy Shumaker, Altrusa Club of Statesboro Co-President explained that Altrusa holds annual fundraisers that include a silent auction and other community events.

One popular fundraiser is their work with Frazier’s Flowers & Gifts to help deliver flowers for Valentines and Mother’s Day. They deliver flowers to raise funds to purchase the books.

The Altrusa Club has also received grants from Altrusa International Foundation for the past 10 years.

In addition, other local civic clubs like the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, Statesboro Service league, EGRMC Hospital Auxiliary, Rotary Club of Statesboro, Downtown Rotary Club of Statesboro and support Altrusas efforts.

Jodi Kennedy answers questions from club members

Join the Altrusa Club

If you would like to learn more about joining Altrusa you can contact Gwen Yarbrough, Altrusa Club of Statesboro membership committee chair at

You can also contact Co-Presidents Nancy Shumaker at or Martha Ray at

Contribute to the Altrusa Club

To make a financial contribution or donate new books you can contact Co-President Nancy Shumaker at

DeWayne Grice

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...