Here a short instructional video that shows how to collect, sort and bundle magazines and comics. Once bundled in this way, you have created a valuable literacy product that can go from anywhere to anywhere to meet literacy needs. There are more detail instructions below.
First, sign-up to volunteer or to let us know you are organizing a local harvest project or team. Then collect “good” or “very good” quality magazines and comics. There are many ways to do this – at home or at school or the office, or a coffee shop or library, from family or friends, or by organizing a magazine party or a magazine drive at your local grocery or book store.
Good condition means no torn or cut pages or covers, water or moisture damage, mustiness or excessive yellowing. Carefully remove paper mailing labels or black out ink mailing labels with a permanent marker to protect your privacy and the dignity of new readers, but leave the covers intact.
Very good condition magazines and comics are “like new”.
Now you’re ready to sort and bundle them.
If your bundles are going to be packed for delivery in medium size USPS Flat Rate boxes, it’s a good idea to pick some up or order them free online: Order Medium boxes
Here’s why we use Postal and other delivery services, even for local deliveries, but you can package your magazines and comics in other boxes or even grocery bags for local delivery (this requires some outreach to find local programs).
Creating Literacy Bundles
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Black Permanent Markers
- White mailing labels
- Shipping tape
- Medium USPS Flat Rate Boxes or other boxes or bags.
- All magazines and comics should be in “good” or “very good” condition.
- No torn, cut or water damaged covers or pages
- Black out or remove mailing labels, then cover up with white label
- Prepare a list of the magazines and comics in each bundle to post
Step 1. Start with a pile of all magazines and comics collected and sort into two stacks – one for gently read, good or very good condition – clean, no torn or cut pages, stains or moisture damage. Recycle the rest at curb or recycling center.
Step 2. Split the stack of good and very good reading materials into two piles – one having paper or ink mailing labels and the other without mailing labels. Carefully remove paper labels and cover ink labels with a black permanent marker. Then cover up the spot with an opaque white mailing label or you can use this label template for printing the labels: Literacy Label Template – Avery 5160 or 8160 This step is very important to protect the privacy of the donor and the dignity of new readers.
Step 3. Next, put all the magazines and comics back into one pile (the ones with no mailing labels and the ones with the mailing labels covered up) and sort them into stacks by general topics or subjects, such as home and garden, business, news, entertainment, science and technology, cooking, teen, kids, comics, etc. When done, combine similar stacks so they are tall enough to create bundles that fill the medium USPS flat rate boxes – about 5 1/2 inches tall (e.g. News with Business; Fashion with Entertainment or Home and Garden; Kids of all types, etc.) or to fill orders for local delivery. Pack boxes full, and tape well, so they ship intact.
Now each is a Bundle of magazines.
Step 4. If you are posting in our online marketplace where literacy programs order bundles, document a list of each magazine and comic in each bundle (Title, Issue Date, condition (Very Good – like new, or Good), and quantity. Use a google doc (Drive) or other spreadsheet. Also, it’s helpful to have photos of one or more covers in each bundle. If you can do this easily with a camera or smartphone, snap and post cover images with the bundle details. This task of listing each magazine can be tedious, but is very important so we can let literacy programs know what’s in each bundle. This helps literacy programs search and find the magazine bundles that best match their literacy needs, so we maximize the value of our literacy work.
Even if you are making local deliveries, it’s helpful to create a list of your magazines with images that you can send to literacy programs.
For the online marketplace, create the list of magazines and comics in the following format, which will speed posting the bundles:
- Magazines and comics listed separately and alphabetically
- Year, then issue in reverse chronological order
- Counts in parenthesis
Here is a sample:
- Automobile 2011: September
- Car and Driver 2011: August, November (3), December
- Government Technology 2011: December
- Motor Trend 2012: January 2011: August, October, November
- Popular Science 2011: January, February (3), October, December 2010: April, June, July, August, September, October, November 2007: February, March, July, September (2) 2006: October
- Science 2010: December
- Smithsonian 2011: September
- Time 2012: May 8th, 15th, April 3
- Wired 2012: March, April
Step 5. Pack and seal bundles in the USPS boxes or other boxes or bags well so they will stand up to shipping or local delivery. For example, put packing tape around the entire circumference of the box, or double-bag paper grocery bags, or put a paper bag inside a plastic grocery bag. If using USPS boxes and posting in our online marketplace, write a unique number each box. Put that number with your team name on the list of magazines (spreadsheet) for that bundle. This is important so that, when the bundles are ordered and we send you the pre-paid postage labels (which will have the literacy program delivery address on them), you know which boxes to ship with each label.
Ready to go. Now your bundles are ready for delivery. If using USPS boxes, post the bundle online for literacy agencies to select. Once selected, and once funds are available for postage, we’ll create and send you a pre-paid shipping label, so you can ship the box to the agency. Then just schedule free pick-up by the Postal Service using their online tool or drop the boxes off at your local Post Office.
It’s helpful to raise funds for postage costs. You can do that using a “crowdfunding” site and we can set up a donation button for your project.
We’ll provide additional guidance when you are ready, so you get the hang of it. Most important: If you are using our online marketplace, your bundle must be posted on our website and selected by a literacy program for delivery, shipping costs need to be funded, and we must send you the shipping label before you schedule the Postal Service pick-up.
Thank you for helping to change the world – one magazine, one comic book, one reader at a time. Please share this with others and contact us if you have questions.