Long before everyone else become interested in conservation and recycling, the Altrusa Club of Lawrence had been redistributing resources to the community with a special consideration toward fighting illiteracy.
And club members met again Wednesday evening to go through their biannual ritual of sorting through collected books and magazines that will be donated to area agencies like retirement homes, the Adult Learning Connection and the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.
"Members of our local club have enjoyed helping the community use a valuable commodity that would otherwise sit, unused, in garages, basements and attics," said Sidney Roedel, co-chair of the group's literacy committee. The group's other committees include information, community service, vocational service and international relations.
ROEDEL SAID that twice a year, the group, which has about 50 members, calls upon churches, service organizations and individuals to ask for new or used books and magazines that can be donated.
Once collected, the group members divide the books into six categories, general adult, women, children, adolescent boys, adolescent girls and seniors. The club then breaks the collection down into smaller bundles and distributes them to area agencies.
In the past two years, the club has distributed more than 2,500 books and magazines, Roedel said. The local club's project dates to 1951.
"We enjoy being of service to the community with hardly any expense and only some physical effort," she said.
In addition to their distribution of books and magazines, the members of the club also participate in activities like historic projects and ringing the Salvation Army's bells at Christmas, Roedel said.
THE LOCAL club is a member of Altrusa International Inc., which has members in 35 countries, she said.
The first club was started in 1917 in Nashville, Tenn. The name, Altrusa, was chosen because it is a combination of altruism and U.S.A., said Roedel.
"Patriotism was very high at that time, so it makes sense that they would include patriotism as an ideal," she said.
Lawrence's Altrusa Club currently is looking at a new direction to add to its curriculum, she said.
Last week, a few members of the club met with representatives from about nine other service agencies in Lawrence, including the United Way of Douglas County and Head Start Community Children's Center, to "talk about the literacy needs in Lawrence," Roedel said.
A smaller core of volunteers decided to meet separately to determine the need of a survey to identify those literacy needs.
Ultimately, Roedel said, the group will investigate the possibility of "whether we might be able to begin to form a coalition to coordinate the providing of literacy services."