Category Archives: Volunteers

Aligning the planets for Magazine Literacy on (EARTH) Day

The sun is shining on recycling magazines to new readers.We are aligning the planets for our 2012 (EARTH) Day magazine recycling juggernaut – sharing magazines with new readers.
(MERCURY) – get the word out to friends
(VENUS) – share your love of magazines
(MARS) – marshal troops and treasure
(JUPITER) – go big!

Join us!

Honoring our magazine literacy accomplishments on Leap Day

Leap Day gives me some extra time to thank everyone who makes our literacy work pop!

I recently had the proud opportunity to summarize our accomplishments – any and all of which only happen thanks to the incredible and MAGnificent support we get from you, our stakeholders – the volunteers, businesses, consumers, and literacy programs who help support our passion for literacy and help us to get wonderful magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of new readers.

  • Together, we have founded and operate  the first and only global magazine industry-wide literacy project for children and families.
  • Our mission and passion is to build an enormous literacy pipeline and to challenge the citizens of the world to fill it with magazines.
  • We are changing the world, one magazine at a time, by tapping and celebrating the unique power of magazines as a literacy resource for at-risk children and families across the U.S. and around the world.
  • We are assembling partnerships throughout the magazine publishing  and technology industries and beyond to create a vibrant online literacy marketplace where any consumer or business can send and any literacy agency can find new and recycled magazines for moms and kids in homeless and domestic violence shelters, domestic violence shelters, youth mentoring programs, job training programs, and to kids in foster care.
  • We are organizing thousands of volunteers in hundreds of community and campus teams to collect and share wonderful magazines to support family literacy.
  • We sent 40,000 surplus children’s magazines to all Head Start programs in Mississippi after Katrina.
  • We match businesses to send magazines to children and families in community literacy programs.
  • We inspire magazine readers to share the wonderful magazines they love with children and families hungry to read.
  • We are creating a lean, but vast supply chain necessary to support magazine literacy logistics on a global scale.


Crowdsourcing magazine literacy

We are exploring ways to crowdsource components of our literacy work to broaden and deepen our community impact. We are building a simple, global, assembly line process for the collection, sorting, and delivery of new and gently read magazines to new readers – children and moms in homeless and domestic violence shelters, foster care, mentoring, and job training programs. Simple, elegant solutions executed by masses of hands, hearts, and minds will ease the replication of our ideas and the engagement of our stakeholders. The labor and information intensive tasks that help to describe our magazine inventory for our literacy agents can be broken down into bite-size pieces for scores of volunteers to add-value and then re-assembled into our global literacy marketplace for consumption by literacy programs and their clients. For example, the better job we do describing our magazines and their content, the easier it will be for literacy programs to request specific items and bundles to meet the reading needs and interests of their own clients. This will improve the quality of matches between available reading materials and literacy needs, increasing the contribution of our combined effort, while reducing waste and inefficiency where resources are already scarce.

FAQ – can you provide more details about volunteering?

Whole Foods Magazine Drive

Whole Foods Mag Drive

Some of the best blog posts originate from your inquires. Today, we were asked for more details about our volunteer needs.  As you will see, there are endless ways to be involved in our literacy work in your community, school, and even your home. Volunteers are our lifeblood and our literacy champions.

The easiest and most important way to help is to follow us on twitter and facebook.  Ask your friends and family to follow us too.

Organize a local team: We are an all-volunteer organization with many ways to be involved, depending on your availability and interests. We need community and school leaders and teams to be successful. We would very much like to set up sustainable magazine recycling operations in communities and schools – where once or twice a month, collected or donated magazines are delivered to local shelters and literacy programs. That involves setting up a lasting team to organize and keep the effort going. The team may grow and shrink and the members of the team might change, but with good leadership and guidance, the torch can be passed from year to year to keep the local project going strong.

Harvest magazines at Whole Foods: We are making a concerted effort to collect magazines at every Whole Foods store in the U.S. and other locations for delivery to new readers via nearby literacy programs. Whole Foods has been a great partner in this effort.  Each store has to be organized individually, and requires a reliable, sustained effort to succeed.

Sponsor magazines for homeless peers: Also, there is a very serious problem in every community relating to homeless young people and students. Every school district has a program that focuses on homeless children. We’d like to organize teams in schools to “adopt” a group of peers – perhaps in their own or another school district anywhere in the U.S. and sponsor new magazine subscriptions for those readers – the idea is to share the magazines we love to read ourselves and the wonderful experience we enjoy reading them with others who do not have ready access to them.

A Mag Drive to feed families hungry to read: Another project – which is more of a one-time effort or could happen periodically, is to organize a magazine drive at a supermarket or book store – that’s like a food drive, but you’d collect magazines for a local domestic violence or homeless shelter or for distribution to families with groceries they receive from a food pantry.  A food drive can be combined with the magazine drive to feed hungry bodies and minds and to easily put reading materials into homes that have few.

Ship us your magazines: Another great way to be involved at home or in school is to collect your magazines at in a medium-sized USPS box or to organize an event with your friends and ask them to bring their magazines to ship. When the boxes are full, they can be shipped for only about $11 to our magazine distribution center.  Help us to spread the word about doing this to as many people as possible.

Help us find and serve local literacy agents: With the local collection and delivery projects – an important first step is finding agencies that would like to receive the magazines.

Go viral: With all these ideas, we love to gather photos and stories to post to our blog, twitter, and facebook page.

Hope this helps stir your imagination.

MagHarvest – Organize a supermarket food and magazine drive

This article explains how to organize a combined food and magazine drive for your local food pantry to feed hungry bodies and minds.  This is especially important as summer approaches, when the need for food and learning increases, because children are out of school, and pantry shelves go empty.  Read on and volunteer today.

There are many parallels between hunger relief and literacy – feeding both the body and the mind is vital for life and productivity.  Whether a child in school or an adult in a job training program, the body needs to be fed for the mind to have the energy needed to focus and learn.

The roots of are planted firmly in decades of hunger relief work that I have organized with hundreds of volunteers in many communities across the U.S., including food drives at supermarkets for local food pantries.  I began organizing food drives in 1986.  In 1994 I launched a toll-free national hunger hotline to connect hungry people, volunteers, and food to their local food pantries.  That same year, I conceived the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project because I knew that families hungry for food were starving for reading materials at home.

Food drives are easy and fun.  Even one person or a small group can spend a day at the entrance of a supermarket asking each shopper to purchase something extra for a hungry family, handing out a “shopping list” of priority items, resulting in thousands of pounds of food donations.  I’ve seen it happen many times.

Food banks, food pantries, backpack feeding programs, Meals on Wheels, and other nutrition programs are a natural way to get reading materials into homes, along with food.  MagHarvest is a special supermarket drive that combines food and magazine collection.  Shoppers are greeted at the supermarket entrance with a smile and “shopping list” that suggests needed food and magazines.  The food and magazines are delivered to a nearby food pantry for distribution to hungry families.  In addition to putting food on the table, MagHarvest shares our own favorite magazines and gets these special reading materials into homes that have few.

Volunteer to organize a MagHarvest drive in your community, so you can help to change the world of a child or a family – one meal and one magazine at a time.  It can be done in four easy steps.  Begin today and have fun!

  1. Locate a food pantry to receive the food and magazines.
  2. Ask a supermarket for permission – most will say “yes!”
  3. Organize a small team – two volunteers working two-hour shifts at the store entrance – enough to cover a day or weekend.
  4. Print up a “shopping list” flyer  – four lists per page – cut and handed to each shopper with eye contact and a smile.  Be sure to include food staples and “magazines for all ages” on your list:
  • Magazines for all ages
  • Baby Food and Formula
  • Canned Vegetables and Fruit
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Hot and Cold Cereal
  • Powdered Milk
  • Healthy Juices
  • Pastas and sauce
  • Chili and Soup
  • Beans and Rice
  • Packaged Tuna and Salmon
  • Canned meat
  • Cooking Oil
  • Crackers

A message to our volunteers

Nearly 1,000 people have joined our volunteer corps and I’ve had the great pleasure to work with many of you on important magazine literacy projects that have reached tens of thousands of children and families who want to learn and love to read. Thank you for helping us to change the world – one magazine at a time!

This is a special communication intended to improve our volunteer information and organization. As an all-volunteer project, we rely on your passion and initiative for any and all success. Organizing such a large and growing group of volunteers is very challenging, and there is always room for improvement. I want to share some basic steps that can be taken to start or to continue your mission critical volunteer work.

The easiest and most important way to support our mission is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and to encourage your social networks to do the same. We are a dynamic organization with a great deal of news to share – including about the volunteer work you are doing. For example, our Facebook page notes that the students in the Ad Dynamics advertising agency are kicking off a wonderful “spring cleaning” event to mark Earth Week where magazines will be collected on campus and delivered to nearby literacy programs – it’s a great model for other schools and communities.

I’d like to ask you to do one other thing to help us better organize your volunteer experience. Click on the link below (or copy and paste it into your browser) to provide us with some additional details about your volunteer interests. Many of you have already done this, but I’d like to ask you to repeat it one more time for a couple reasons. First of all, it will help us to update our volunteer contact information with the most current information. Also, and most important, we’ve added a list of specific volunteer activities that will help us help you to get started and keep going on vital community literacy projects.

[volunteer info]

It’s important to know about your time contribution and to measure our total community impact, so please be sure to keep track of your volunteer hours here:

[Volunteer Hours]

Also – stay tuned about new developments. We are constantly innovating and sharing lessons learned to improve our operations and results. Our website and blog offer a wealth of information from our many years on the ground. We are in the process of upgrading our technology and website to better organize that information so it is easier to find and use.

Our volunteers are our lifeblood – the heart, soul, minds, hands, and feet of our literacy work. Thank you again for your amazing passion and inspiration, and for helping us to get the wonderful magazines we enjoy ourselves into the hands, hearts, and homes of children and families.

Please be in touch without hesitation if you have any questions or ideas. I am looking forward to our follow-up and continued growth together.

Best wishes,


John Mennell
Founding Director

Rowan University “Spring Cleaning” recycles magazines to new readers for Earth Week

Help us to promote and grow this wonderful seed planted by Ad Dynamics – the student run ad agency at Rowan University in NJ… during an Earth Week “spring cleaning” event, students recycled over 100 magazines to new readers via Volunteers of America. The Ad Dynamics team also documented how to organize a Spring Cleaning event, including posters, brochures, presentations, and even a video.


How to organize a Magazine Recycling event

Spring Cleaning – Magazine Harvest Poster