Lawrence M. Walsh
JOLIET – A Joliet man’s humanitarian work and Will County’s book reuse and recycling event have come together to have a global impact.
Paul Waggoner went on his first humanitarian trip to Ghana in 1989. He returned in 1991, when he lived in the West African nation for 10 months. He’ll return this summer.
But he’ll be preceded by about 5,000 books he picked up at the Will County Land Use Department’s Resource Recovery and Energy Division book recycling and reuse event held earlier this month.
Waggoner, who belongs to Friends of St. Peter’s School, said many of the books will go to St. Peter’s College, a vocational high school in Larteh, Ghana. The remainder will be distributed to other schools in Ghana.
Waggoner said a friend dropped by with books from the day one of the three-day event held at the Pilcher Park Nature Center. The next day he and a colleague went and got books. They made arrangements with Tim Anderson, who organizes the event for the RRE Division, to come at the end of the event to go through the remaining books.
“We took as many of the academic books as we could take,” Waggoner said. “We were very happy to avert these from going into the waste stream when there’s so much need.”
That sentiment dovetails into the event’s goals, said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “There are two primary goals of this event and Mr. Waggoner hit them both. We want to keep these books out of our landfill, and we want to promote literacy.”
Anderson agreed. About 1,200 Will County residents attended the event this year and combed through an estimated 60,000 books donated by schools, libraries and individuals. Of those, about 8,000 were left to shred at the end of the three-day event, meaning an estimated 52,000 unwanted books were kept out of the waste steam.
“Next year’s event is already scheduled with our partner, the Joliet Park District,” said Anderson. “Mark your calendars for May 31, and June 1 and 2, 2019.”