Ethiopia Reads awareness: a 20K+ book sorting, American Girl author presentation

More than 20,000 books to be sorted in 12 hours on April 13 and a presentation by Jane Kurtz, author of the American Girl "Lanie" books, on April 27, will help bring awareness to an international non-profit organization called "Ethiopia Reads."

Both events are sponsored by a Leadership 310 class at Fort Hays State University.

Volunteers will sort the books in shifts by topic, audience age and condition from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 3300 Vine St. (between Hastings and Westlake Hardware), before being packed into boxes for shipment to Ethiopia, where they go to schools and libraries.

Kurtz's presentation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Robbins Center on the FHSU campus. This event will include children's learning activities and a drawing for prizes. Drawing tickets are available for a recommended donation of $1 each. The main prizes are Kurtz’s American Girl doll, "Lanie," and an autographed FHSU sports package. Attendance is free, but donations are welcome.

Donation jars and drop boxes for books in advance of the Ethiopia Reads events have been established at local businesses: Hastings, 3300 Vine, and Papa Murphy's, 2700 Oak St.

Ethiopia Reads helps Ethiopian communities by building schools and libraries, providing books and training librarians. It is based in Minneapolis, Minn. The organization focuses on working with communities, schools and other organizations to help raise funds and spread awareness. Ethiopia, with a literacy rate of less than 50 percent, is ranked 195th out of 196 countries for adult literacy.

The Ethiopia Reads website is The interaction between FHSU and Ethiopia Reads began in January 2013 at the beginning of the spring semester. Leadership 310 classes at FHSU teach students how to apply leadership concepts, theories and behaviors by allowing them to work in small groups, and the collaboration with Ethiopia Reads is one of the group projects.

For more information on how to support or participate in the book sorting and author presentation, contact Kelsey Overbey, FHSU Ethiopia Reads student member, at 785-639-1318.

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