This past March, I got the privilege to work with Project Cicero. Project Cicero is an organization that accepts donated books and then sorts them into groups. After the sorting is completed, teachers come to choose from the sorted books for their own classrooms. The sorting is a very complicated and detailed process; however, once you are doing for about 10 minutes you get the hang of which books go in what group. The environment is a very supportive one and there are always people there willing to help you find the proper group for books if you are ever unsure. While the room became very hectic at points, the organization was overall a well oiled machine. At any given point it can seem like not much is being done, but by the end of the four hours, the room will have transformed from a pile of thousands to books to lots of organized boxes of books stacked neatly into piles.
I worked with Project Cicero two days this year. On my first day I was assigned to organize books. We would take books from old boxes and sort the books into fresh, new boxes. I would grab a stack of books at a time and walk around sorting multiple at a time rather than grab one each time. I did this for about an hour and felt very rewarded after sorting hundreds of books. However, this was not the end of my contributions. Soon, I got pulled over by someone that worked with the organization and got asked to helped crush old boxes that could not be reused. This process involved stepping on and ripping apart books. This is another one of the positions a volunteer could occupy for Project Cicero. Not only are there these two, fun and rewarding positions but there are others as well if you are looking for a more relaxed position or a more heavy lifting one. Book sorting and box crushing can get pretty intense at points, but there is box lifting for a more heavy lifting job and box checking for a more relaxed job. Box checking is where people sit by boxes and double check that all the books inserted into the book is in its proper group. My first day was pretty relaxed compared to the first since the teachers did not come on the first day.
My second day, I returned to crushing boxes and even got assigned to moving dumpsters up and down from our room and the basement. While, this job seems pretty gross, you really develop a relationship with the other people you are working with and are constantly in motion so you don’t even realize the dirt on your hands. Throughout my second day, I shifted back and forth between sorting books and box crushing. With all the teachers visiting every 30 minutes, book sorting was much more intense the second day and would stop when the teachers entered which is when I would return to box crushing. Honestly, I found the environment to be warm and welcoming and you are almost never standing still so definitely come prepared to work, but by the end the work is very rewarding and you will truly feel like you made a huge contribution to the overall goal.