A photograph of the Aull Center, a historic stone building in Morgantown, WV, where APBP's office is located.

How to Volunteer with APBP: An Inside Look

Volunteers are the driving force to keeping our vision and mission alive here at the Appalachian Prison Book Project. Without our amazing, dedicated volunteers, we would not be able to operate as efficiently or touch the number of lives that we do. Our volunteers are important to us, and they are what keep APBP running smoothly. Our doors are always open for people eager to make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated.

All new APBP volunteers get trained on how to help, and there are three tasks that they are asked to complete. Let’s go through what the beginning of the volunteer process at APBP looks like step-by-step so it is less intimidating for anyone who wants to volunteer.

The First Day

The first step of becoming a volunteer at APBP is called training. Training sessions are typically held on Saturdays in the mornings and last about an hour. You can register for a training time on our website.

Location and Parking

You should go to our office in the Aull Center (351 Spruce Street) before your training begins. The Aull Center is the large stone building next to the Morgantown Public Library. Our office is located on the second floor of the building, so once inside, head up the stairs to find the office. The person who oversees training for that day will be there to welcome you.

If you have access to a car and plan on driving to your training session, there are a multitude of paid parking spots available near the Aull Center. Some places to park include along High Street and the parking lot on Spruce Street at the southwest corner of Spruce Street and Forest Avenue, which is across the street from the Morgantown Farmers Market. There is also paid parking available at the Spruce Street United Methodist Church, which is located across the street from the Morgantown Public Library. From any of those locations, the Aull Center is a short walk.

Once the training session begins, the trainer will take you through how to complete the three tasks.

The Tasks

There are three different tasks that volunteers can perform: opening letters, matching books, and wrapping packages. Volunteers are not limited to choosing one task. As a volunteer, you are allowed to perform any combination of the three tasks when you are volunteering in the APBP office. If you would like to do all three tasks in one day, you are welcome to do so.

Opening Letters

The first task a volunteer can perform is opening the letters that we receive in the mail. Completing this task includes opening letters and figuring out what book, author, or genre the incarcerated individual is requesting. Reading the letters can reveal insight into the life of a person behind bars, which makes this task intriguing and unique.

Some people that would be good at this task are people who pay close attention to details. This task doesn’t require much movement, either. People who prefer to stay in one spot may find this task suitable for them. Lastly, people who enjoy color coding may enjoy this task.

Matching Books

The second volunteering task is matching the letters to books. The APBP office is filled with many different genres of books and many different authors. Volunteers use the already open letters to find a book or books that match the request of the incarcerated individual.

I would recommend this task for people who love to read and have a vast knowledge of different books and book genres. People that want to get into reading may enjoy this task since it can provide them with an idea of the types of books that they might enjoy reading.

Wrapping Packages

The final task that a volunteer can do is wrapping the matched books. This task is as simple as it sounds; the volunteers wrap and address the books to the incarcerated individual that requested the book.

I would recommend this task to those who love to wrap presents or often get told that they are good at wrapping gifts.

Start Volunteering with APBP

Now that you have a sense of what the beginning of the volunteer process is like here at APBP, here is how to get started!

The first step is to register for training. If you are not available for the time slots for training sessions, contact us to plan a training session that works for you!

We cannot wait to welcome you into our volunteer family.

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