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Volunteer With More Than Words

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Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019 | 11:00 am - 01:30 pm EDT

Location:  More Than Words
242 East Berkeley Street
Boston, Massachusetts  02118
United States

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Join your Duke friends for a volunteer event at More Than Words Boston, where we'll be helping to sort and scan books at a bookstore run by young people who are in foster care, court-involved, homeless or out of school.

More Than Words (MTW) empowers youth to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. MTW believes that when system-involved youth are challenged with authentic and increasing responsibilities in a business setting, and are given high expectations and a culture of support, they can and will address personal barriers to success, create concrete action plans for their lives and become contributing members of society. MTW youth work 20+ hours a week managing an online & retail bookstore in Boston and a bookstore/café in Waltham, while also learning essential life skills (e.g., opening a bank account, finding housing, getting an ID), committing to getting a GED or diploma, receiving assistance to pursue higher education, and participating in workshops, mock interviews, and resume building.

We'll be volunteering at MTW's Boston bookstore. Volunteer events begin with a youth-led tour. It is here that volunteers will be able to learn more about the organization and the model before delving into the particular service project for the day. After the tour, we do a quick "icebreaker" activity as a tool for volunteers to get know the service leaders and each other a bit more. Though the service activity can be unique to the day, volunteers should expect to help out with two primary tasks. These jobs can be dusty, so be aware if you have dust sensitivity:

  • Pre-sorting: Pre-sorting is the first task a youth will learn on shift and is essential before any others can be completed. As book donations come in, they are sorted by barcode, ISBN, wholesale and title search. Volunteers are taught and are given a chance to sort through new donations and put books in their corresponding categories.
  • Pre-Scanning: After pre-sorting, the next critical task is pre-scanning. Pre-scanning, by way of a system MTW utilizes called "Indaba," is how MTW determines which is the best avenue to sell (or not sell) the donated book. There are primarily three options: online, in-store or wholesale. After either scanning the book's barcode or entering its ISBN number, Indaba's software can use an array of algorithms that then will suggest the best action to take with the donation. Volunteers are taught and given a chance to help with this essential task as shifts typically aim to scan upwards of two thousand books each day.

Book donations are encouraged. Please clean off your shelves and bring a few books to donate at the volunteer event.


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