Students Speak: How do you make community service a priority?

Tech’s student organization Enterprise to Empower, in conjunction with MOVE (Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experience) on campus and the international social enterprise Better World Books (BWB), is kicking off its third biannual semester-long book drive this Sunday, Nov. 4.
The event will provide opportunities for members of the Tech community to clear out their shelves, share the knowledge contained in their books with people in faraway places like Africa and contribute to the non-profit literacy organizations that BWB helps  to support. Tech’s event will contribute to Books for Africa.
Enterprise to Empower Vice President of External Relations, Nancy Thanki, believes that the book drive is a great opportunity to spread Enterprise to Empower’s vision of “social entrepreneurship,” which is a way of doing business which is centered around the concept of giving back to society.
Thanki also believes that the line between big business and not-for-profit organizations is artificial and unecessary, and that it should be erased. Profit ventures like BWB’s literacy drives are a step in the direction to  improving the human condition.
“A lot of people don’t understand that you don’t have to choose either being a non-profit or being a big company.  You can make money and have the lifestyle that you want, and you can also help people at the same time,” Thanki said.
According to Thanki, Enterprise to Empower reached out to BWB to inquire about starting a book drive on the Institute’s campus because it saw BWB’s business model as a prime example of social entrepreneurship in action. Also, the potential to collect a large number of books at Tech occurred to the organizers  when  they decided to plan the event. Furthermore, Tech students have both textbooks and novels.
“As a college campus, we obviously have tons of books to give,” Thanki said.
The BWB website explains that books donated are either sold at discount in developing nations, given to non-profit partners or recycled if they are found unsuitable for other uses.  Book drives help one entity on BWB’s list of nonprofit partners, which consists of  Books for Africa, Invisible Children, Worldfund, the National Center for Family Literacy and Room to Read.
This semester, for the first time, Tech’s organization for facilitating participation in community service projects MOVE  (Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experience) is helping out with the drive.
According to MOVE president Davina Morrow, the organization’s involvement is an extension of its core mission of providing service opportunities for its members, providing additional volunteer manpower to help Enterprise to Empower carry out and publicize the drive.
“They’re able to, through this process, provide their members with volunteer opportunities.  This way we’re able to engage another organization and spread the word,” Morrow said.
According to Thanki, the Enterprise to Empower book drive collected around 500 books last semester. This year, she hopes the drive increases its haul through the participation of students, faculty and staff around campus.
“This past semester we received about 500 books.  We’re hoping to grow that number every semester, because we’ve been reaching out to various managers of the different buildings on campus. Many of them remember seeing our boxes everywhere and [say] ‘of course you can have them here.’”