Guard Soldiers, Families Get Books

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

INDIANAPOLIS, May 22, 2007 - Indiana citizen-soldiers and their families are enjoying copious reading material thanks to a partnership between bookseller Barnes and Noble, the United Service Organizations and America Supports You, an Indiana Army National Guard senior noncommissioned officer said here May 20.

"We've received four semi-(trailer-) truck loads of books" over the past two weeks, Master Sgt. Roy H. Zenor, plans NCO for the Joint Maneuver Training Center at Camp Atterbury, Ind., said during Armed Forces Day activities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bookselling colossus Barnes and Noble recently joined the Defense Department's America Supports You program and made a $3.4 million donation of 300,000 items consisting of books, toys and games for servicemembers and their families. America Supports You connects citizens and corporations with military members and their families serving at home and overseas. The USO participates in the America Supports You program.

"All of these books came from the USO and Barnes and Noble," Zenor said, noting a distribution center was set up at the camp. "We're scheduled to receive eight to 10 truckloads all together."

Camp Atterbury, one of six reserve-component mobilization sites in the United States, is located about 40 miles southwest of Indianapolis, said Zenor, who's assigned to the 638th Military Intelligence Battalion based in Indianapolis.

Volunteers at Camp Atterbury continue to sort out the books according to categories, such as reference, child and educational books, Zenor said.

"Some of these books will become part of the Camp Atterbury library," Zenor said, while other books will go to soldiers training for overseas deployment at Camp Atterbury or to troops returning from duty abroad. Other books, toys and games will be forwarded to other Indiana military units as well as to state family-assistance organizations.

Troops at Camp Atterbury already are enjoying the donated books on their off-duty time, Zenor said.

"Soldiers tell us they're reading books they never thought they'd read, which is a good thing to hear," Zenor said.

Zenor said he became aware of USO-affiliated activities for the military at an Inter Service Family Assistance Committee meeting he'd attended in Indianapolis. Afterward, USO representatives traveled to Camp Atterbury to meet with Zenor and other officials.

"They talked about what the USO could do for Camp Atterbury," Zenor recalled. "And, we continued to work on that relationship." The USO later told Zenor about the possibility of obtaining some donated books.

Penske Logistics, a global trucking firm, is delivering 22 trailer loads of Barnes and Noble-donated items to military bases nationwide. The trucking company has assisted in shipping book donations to ASY affiliates Delaware-based Operation AC, Operation Shoebox in Florida, Adopt-a-Chaplain in California, the USO of Indiana and other nonprofit groups nationwide. ASY partner Y3K Grafix enlisted Penske's assistance.

The magnitude of all of this support "is just amazing" and very much appreciated, Zenor said.

Zenor's zeal is commendable, noted Marie Spinosa, director of fund raising for the Indianapolis-based USO of Indiana.

"I really was impressed by Sergeant Zenor's excitement about the donation," Spinosa said. "He has worked very hard to make sure he can use the donation wisely and that people can benefit from it in the best way."

The USO is a private, nonprofit organization that provides morale, welfare and recreation-type services to U.S. servicemembers. The USO operates more than 130 centers worldwide. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait.

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