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Urbana Books to Prisoners

Local book program supplies Illinois prisoners with hope, education

By Jessica Bourque / For CU-CitizenAccess — In a stuffy, dimly lit basement located in downtown Urbana, Ella Kinzie sits hunched over at a table, a pile of unopened letters by her side. She is hard at work, doing a job similar to Santa Claus’s, reading over wish lists and turning them into realities.

She sends a cookbook to Cristina, who wants to learn how to bake cupcakes, a Spanish- English dictionary to Alejandro, who longs to speak better English, and an advertising book to Maurice, who wishes to start his own business one day.  

“Even the most ordinary requests are special to me because it’s like these few books are going to make such a difference in that person’s quality of life,” said Kinzie.

Photo illustration/ A stack of Webster dictionaries. Dictionaries are the most requested book by Illinois prisoners from the Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners program

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