BY KATE SPACE
SC Staff Writer
As college students, we are no strangers to the pain of paying way too much for our textbooks. Many of us are on tight budgets and attempt to find cheaper ways to obtain the textbooks we need each semester.
What if purchasing used books online could actually enable us to help the homeless? What if, in our attempt to save money, we could also donate to a charitable cause? Well, we can.
In an effort to save some money on books for my literature class, I recently purchased three used books from Amazon. Not paying much attention to where the books were coming from, I quickly selected the items I needed and clicked “checkout.”
When they arrived, I began skimming through the pages of the books I had just received. When I opened the cover of one of the books, a small bookmark fell out onto my lap with the words “Thank You” printed across the top. After inspecting the bookmark, I realized I had purchased the book from a seller on Amazon called Housing Works.
Housing Works is an organization that uses its proceeds to help people living with AIDS and/or homelessness in New York City.
The bookmark read, “Your purchase helps support Housing Works’ mission to end the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS.”
Flipping the bookmark over, I read on. “Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Our mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain our efforts.”
I’ll admit I was unaware that I had been giving to this organization when I ordered my books, but after reading the small blurb on the bookmark, I became immediately interested in learning more about Housing Works and what it does to help those in need.
Housing Works’ objective is to fight for legislation and financial support for people living with HIV/AIDS, aiming to ensure that they have access to quality healthcare, housing, and legal services that offer protection from discrimination.
The organization, which began in 1990, has provided services such as job training, HIV prevention information, meals and nutritional counseling, and substance abuse treatment to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS in the New York City area.
Housing Works’ website, www.shophousingworks.com, explains their mission, stating, “Housing Works is a grassroots organization committed to the use of non-violent civil disobedience in order to further our mission to end AIDS and homelessness. We believe that providing stable housing and healthcare is the first step toward living a long and healthy life.”
While I was introduced to the organization by purchasing books from them online, Housing Works also has a store in New York City.
According to the website, Housing Works Bookstore Café has “established itself as a New York downtown institution and tourist destination for the last decade. Special events and a fully stocked café make this a great place to meet friends, relax, and shop the best book, movie, and music selection in New York City.”
All of the merchandise is donated, and the store relies on a staff of mostly volunteers. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Bookstore Café go to funding Housing Works’ efforts. The organization also runs thrift shops throughout New York City, which operate in the same way.
It only takes a few quick clicks of a mouse to order used books online. And now, it only takes a few quick clicks to help an ever-growing population of people that need assistance.
Next time you skip the bookstore for a text book, look for Housing Works on Amazon. It could literally save a life.
To volunteer, donate, or search their inventory, go to www.shophousingworks.com or visit the Housing Works Bookstore Café, located at 126 Crosby Street, New York, NY, open seven days a week.
Email Kate at: