The Association of African Charities recently discovered thefts from its donation boxes set up around Northern Kentucky University’s campus for the Spring Book Drive.
The AAC started the drive at the beginning of the semester in hopes of collecting books, stationary, pens, pencils and other materials to send to underprivileged school children in Africa. Donation boxes are located in every building on campus and are emptied weekly by AAC members.
“It’s kind of on the honor system,” said senior Corey Catton, vice president of public relations for the AAC. “We had the boxes set up all over the campus and set up posters and hoped that people would just drop off whatever they could into the boxes. Routinely, once a week, we would come by and pick them up.”
Senior Lovingson Mtongwiza, AAC vice president of research, said AAC members noticed items had been stolen when checking their assigned boxes.
“Each one of us, like our members, is in charge of each building,” Mtongwiza said. “You go to classes in the morning and you see that the box is full, and you come back in four hours and the books are not there. And none of our members is allowed to go to the other buildings.”
“I went to the BEP building and the first day I saw the books were like half full. I went back the next day and there was nothing,” said junior Chanda Kapota, AAC president.
AAC members said most of the books being stolen are math and statistics books that were used in previous semesters. Kapota said students might see these books in the boxes and take them to use in following semesters instead of buying them from the bookstores. Mtongwiza still encourages professors to donate any extra books they may have, but to prevent more thefts he asks that they contact the AAC directly to do so.
“We ran into the problem of stuff coming up missing, so we’ve been trying to check the boxes more often and just keep an eye on them,” Catton said.
Although this is the first time the AAC has sponsored a book drive, Mtongwiza said no thefts were reported during previous fundraising events.
“We did a clothes drive, and the clothes were not stolen,” he said.
Although AAC members said theft of any kind is intolerable, they are very disappointed students are taking away from another child’s education.
“Stealing a book [from a poor child] is like stealing oxygen from a dying person,” Mtongwiza said.
The AAC said in an announcement on the Norse News Network that educational materials are so scarce in some areas of Africa that writing materials are often only available to take exams.
“We are trying to help people without education materials, so it’s just not right to take from them when we have resources,” Kapota said.
Mtongwiza said any school materials are welcome for donation, and the thefts have not deterred the organization’s efforts.
“We are happy with what we received so far, and those with the good hearts to help should keep on doing so,” Mtongwiza said.
“It’s unfortunate that [the thefts] had to happen, but I think the overall effect will be positive enough that we will do this again,” Catton said.
The book drive may last through the first week of March. The AAC will hold a bake sale Thursday on the first floor of the Landrum Academic Center to help pay for the shipping costs.
“Students here have been given the gift of education, and we’re just asking them to share,” Catton said.