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Literacy Non-Profit To Petition CSAC

Sunday, September 24, 2005 Filed: 12:15 AM EDT (04:15 GMT)
John Cropper, VSC Staff Reporter

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY -- Thirty-nine years after the launch of a global literacy project that has provided over five million books free of charge to institutions in over one hundred countries, supporters hope they can persuade the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a commemorative postage stamp for its founder in time for her hundredth birthday in 2010.

Lynda Jeffries (left), Executive Director for the International Book Project presents her philatelic proposal to Lexington's Henry Clay Philatelic Society. (right) HCPS President Wayne A. Gnatuk.                                                         Cropper CCMHG/VSC
The International Book Project, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky was founded by Harriet Drury Van Meter in 1966, a life-long advocate of literacy, after a trip abroad opened her eyes to the lack of affordable textbooks in developing countries.

She began the task of matching donors of books with schools and libraries in developing countries, out of her home at first, using the Post Office Department as her sole means of shipping books to then-little-known areas of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. That effort has grown into a federally-registered 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization that has shipped millions of books to destinations where they are most needed, both domestic and abroad.

Mrs. Van Meter was a 1986 finalist for the Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded the Kiwanis International World Services Medal in 1989.

On Friday, September twenty-third, IBP hosted a Passport to Literacy presentation, which featured readings by local authors and served as the launching point for their online petition, located at http://www.internationalbookproject.org/stamp.php as part of their effort to persuade the CSAC to issue a commemorative stamp for Mrs. Van Meter. The Henry Clay Philatelic Society of Lexington provided technical support at the presentation, including answering questions about the stamp collecting, the stamp selection process and the USPS.

Lexington's Henry Clay Philatelic Society has also pledged ongoing support for the project in the form of a six-member volunteer committee to assist IBP in its effort. This committee includes current club Vice-President Mike Strother, secretary Linda Lawrence, as well as long-time members Dale Farabee, Paul Hager, Don Sproule and Marvin Robinson. Robinson is a retired letter-carrier who is familiar with the process of getting a stamp issued; his efforts three decades prior eventually led the issuance of the Fort Harrod stamp in 1974.

The IBP has no illusions about the possibilities of successfully getting a commemorative stamp for Mrs. Van Meter. The fifteen-member CSAC receives a deluge of suggestions from Americans from all walks of life, up to fifty THOUSAND every year! From this wide field, only about two dozen subjects are honored, based in part on a balance of educational, popular and artistic appeal. The IBP is hopeful that Mrs. Van Meter's tireless work, coupled with a large response on their petition will appeal to the CSAC's judgment and the 2010 USPS Stamp Program will include a commemorative for a woman who helped to bring literacy to the world.

For more on the International Book Project and its work, please consult www.internationalbookproject.org.

The Henry Clay Philatelic Society's web site is located at www.henryclayphilatelic.org

Additional information about this and other U.S. stamps can be found on the USPS web site, located at www.usps.com. For more information, or to find a local stamp club near you, visit the American Philatelic Society's web site at www.stamps.org. Free stamp collecting information is available from The Virtual Stamp Club online at www.virtualstampclub.com

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