Beginning the Year on a High Note: POP Project’s 2015 in Review and Look ahead to 2016

The POP Project broke our book delivery records again in 2015 by sorting, packing, and delivering over 7,500 books valued at nearly $38,000! These books were delivered to local area schools, children’s programs, shelters, housing and healthcare centers, food pantries, and detention centers to serve the people most in need of a greater access to books.

We also held a number of volunteer opportunities, coordinated local activities to promote literacy, and participated in several strategic community collaborations. Here’s a look back at our highlights of 2015:

Year in Review

POP’s Best Moments of 2015

  • Found Objects Tumblr Page: Early last year, POP began scanning and posting the scraps and lost treasures found in books donated to us to a Tumblr page. Follow us or visit daily for new found objects.
  • Community Fundraisers and Support: 2015 marked a boon year for community support. We received a portion of proceeds on Loretta Cafe’s Big Hug Super Saturday, volunteered for the city on July 4th, and were awarded $200 in gas cards from Ingles.
  • Rethink Ink Book Sale Fundraiser: Last summer, POP raised $251 during a book sale fundraiser held outside on Haywood Road. The annual event allows us to promote reading and books, even in the face of digital technology, while raising money by selling books we are unable to donate into the community.
  • Little Libraries at Community Housing: POP was invited to participate in the placement of public little library boxes at each of the housing communities around town. We were chosen to oversee the box at Deaverview Apartments to make sure it stays full.
  • Usborne Books Collaboration: In August, POP began a partnership with a book rep from Usborne Books. Thanks to her hard work, POP received several boxes of brand new children’s books that helped us meet specific community needs.
  • Record Day of Caring Deliveries: In September, a group of volunteers from Beverly-Hanks helped POP sort, count, pack, and deliver over $7,000 of books to nine organizations and agencies around Asheville and Buncombe County – all in one afternoon. That’s by far our most successful Day of Caring yet!
  • Banned Books Week: POP celebrated Banned Books Week this year by posting “wanted” posters around town. The books featured were some of the most frequently banned books, each with a connection to NC.
  • Give!Local Online Fundraiser: POP was one of 30 nonprofits selected for the inaugural fundraising campaign coordinated by the Mountain Xpress. Thanks to tremendous support, POP raised over $1,100.

POP’s Book Giving Program Keeps Growing!

2015 was another big year for book giving by the POP Project. Our goal was to increase our 2014 donations by 10 percent to 7,700 books. After our end-of-year count, we were short of that goal by about 150 books.

However, to increase the efficiency of our storage units and ensure the quality of our local deliveries, POP also gave an additional 1,505 books to Goodwill in 2015. These books did not meet our core delivery qualifications and will hopefully find wonderful new homes through Goodwill’s resale program.

Our 2015 deliveries totalled 7,546 books, and had a value of $37,730. Here’s a breakdown of our donations for 2015 as compared to 2014:

2014 2015
Schools and Children’s Programs 3,950 3,103
State Prisons; Local Jails and Detention Centers 1,199 937
Community Nonprofits, Housing Centers, and Organizations in WNC 1,270 3,058
Little Libraries n/a 197
Other (including books sold at Rethink Ink) 568 251


2015 Book Delivery Locations

A-HOPE Day Center
Asheville City Pre-school
Big Ivy Community Center
Biltmore Methodist Church
Buncombe County Detention Facility
Candler Elementary
Candler Head Start
Caring for Children
Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc.
Craggie Correctional Facility
Deaverview Apartments
Diana Wortham Center
Emma Elementary
Enka High School
Enka Middle School
Fairview Elementary
Four Seasons Hospice Home Store
Charles George VA Medical Center
Goodwill Industries
Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center
Greenville Detention Center
Haywood Street Congregation
Hillcrest Apartments
Hominy Valley Community Market
Hominy Valley Elementary
Housing Authority of the City of Asheville
Johnston Elementary
Johnston Headstart
Literacy Council of Buncombe County
Lord’s Acre
Madison County Detention Center
Madison County High School
Methodist Church (Asheville)
Neil Dobbins Rehab Center
Odd’s Cafe
Pisgah Elementary
Sandhill Elementary
Sandhill Elementary ELS
Sandhill Headstart
Sandhill-Venable Elementary
Shining Rock Classical Academy Smart Start
St James Episcopal Church
Western Carolina Rescue Ministries

Holiday Fundraising through Give!Local

POP participated in the inaugural Give!Local program organized by the Mountain Xpress. Despite being an untested fundraising platform, POP raised $1,143 through Give!Local, or 38% of our operating budget for 2016! Together with our offline donations, POP started 2016 with $1,428 in our accounts.

We were very excited about the amount of money raised and would like to thank all our generous donors for their support. Those donations will cover our storage costs through June 30!

Our Thanks to You, Our Community of Supporters, for a Great 2015!

Thank you to our supporters, donors, volunteers, social media followers, and book givers for all your help last year. We collected and sorted through many, many books to determine their best homes. We made 86 book deliveries to 50 programs and organizations in our community. We made a difference to the lives of more than 10,000 thousand men, women, and children in Asheville, Buncombe County, and across Western North Carolina. And we couldn’t have done this without your help, support, and belief in the power of a good book.

Here’s to an even bigger and better year of giving in 2016!


Continuing the Momentum in 2016 – and How You can Help

POP made an unprecedented impact to our community during 2015, but we still have a long way to go before everyone in WNC has sufficient access to books. We want to keep expanding our donation base, programs, and volunteer opportunities for the coming year, and we need help doing it.

Here are just a few of our goals for 2016, along with ways you can help us meet them:

  • Better expand into surrounding counties in WNC: POP still plans to expand further east and west of Buncombe to cover additional counties in Western North Carolina that could benefit from a greater access to those books. Do you know of any shelters, development centers, detention centers, food pantries, or healthcare facilities in your area that could benefit from a few good books? Let us know how we can help.
  • Hold our annual “Rethink Ink” book sale fundraiser: POP accepts almost all kinds of books, and so we have collected many more than we can currently find homes for. Our “Rethink Ink” fundraiser encourages people to keep paper books alive during the digital revolution, while also serving as our largest fundraising event of the year. Look for more information later in the spring about this year’s book sale fundraiser.
  • Increase the number of books we donate by 8%: In 2015, POP was able to find homes for nearly $38,000 worth of books. That’s great work, but we know we can break that $40K mark! By expanding our programs, and the reach of our donations, we plan to donate even more this year! If you are interested in helping us transport books, or you know any organizations that could benefit from a greater access to books, let us know.
  • More programming for Banned Books Week 2016: Banned Books Week is a national week devoted to showcasing the power of the printed word. The POP Project is committed to bringing Banned Books Week to life in Asheville by creating events and partnering with local organizations who work to ensure that banning books becomes an idea of the past.
  • Add additional drop box locations around Asheville: Our sincerest thanks to the Literacy Council and Spellbound Children’s Bookshop for their continued support of the POP Project by hosting drop boxes in North and Central Asheville. POP would like to make drop boxes available to people on all sides of town. Contact us if your business or organization is interested in hosting a drop box.

The POP Project works to make sure no book goes without a home, goes unread, sits on a shelf and collects dust, and that all of the books we are entrusted with are used for constructive, personal expansion. If you can help with any of these projects, or if you think there are additional areas in which POP can serve WNC, contact us today!

Additional Ways to Help in 2016

There are many more ways to ensure that POP continues to make a positive impact on our community in 2016. Please consider donating time, money, or items that will directly impact our programs.