Volunteering during Covid-19

Update January 2021

We are still getting books out the door, but with a smaller group of experienced volunteers. We hope to have in-person volunteer opportunities for new volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so, or if the weather allows outdoor activities. Follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for announcements or check back at this page!

Book mailings: in-person | outdoors | masks on

sign-up required | click here

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we fell several months behind in filling book requests. Inspired by the pop-up book sales by our friends at Boneshaker Books, we designed a way for us to conduct volunteer mailings with “grocery-store” levels of safety: outdoors, wearing masks, and with limited numbers of volunteers (10-11 people per shift).

Photos of 2020 volunteer mailings

To capitalize on the remaining good weather and long days available to us, and in the hopes of answering all 1500 requests that have gone un-answered since since March 22, we have created an ambitious mailing schedule that includes Sunday afternoons and evenings, as well as some weekday evenings.

Mailings are held in the parking lot of Boneshaker Books (2002 23rd Avenue South in Minneapolis). New volunteers are always welcome, and no experience is necessary. The mailings are lively events, even wearing masks — we hope you will enjoy them as much as we do! Sign up here.

Covid-19 letter campaign: virtual | digital | zine

Our letter-writing campaigns are helping us stay in touch with our customers inside even while our capacity to send books is limited.

To stay in touch with our people inside and let them know we were thinking of them during Covid-19, we did a series of virtual letter-writing campaigns in April and May of 2020. Volunteers were supplied names and addresses of people who had requested books from us during the pandemic, and a template that used the amazing “What to do during a pandemic” series by Ricardo Levins Morales. They personalized these notes during a group Zoom call.

Our letter-writing template used coloring book images from Ricardo Levins Morales and Cory Teshera-Levye.

We have since received a myriad of responses from people inside, telling us about conditions in prison during Covid-19, and sharing words of solidarity with others inside. The responses were powerful, and we can’t wait to share the words with you. We are currently working on a zine that will be mailed back to people inside, and informational materials to share with our volunteers, donors and supporters on the outside.

We may conduct another letter-writing campaign around the winter holiday season. Use the sign-up form here to let us know you’re interested.

If you have graphic design skills to develop web content around the letter responses, collage skills and feel inspired by what we’ve received, or the time to transcribe handwritten (cursive) letters to digital text, please get in touch or use the contact form at the bottom of the page.

Other volunteer opportunities

Other volunteer opportunities include soliciting donations from publishers and organizations, opening letters from women in prison to screen for special situations and requests, maintaining our Salesforce database of customers, and outreach to our volunteers and donors. If you have time and energy, we can find a way to help you contribute to WPBP. If you or a group you are involved in would like to organize a fundraiser for WPBP, or organize a special book mailing/presentation for your organization, please contact us. If you or your organization wishes to hold a book drive for WPBP, please contact us at our email or use the form below.