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Book Club Partnership With Jax Food Bank Brings Books To Those In Need

Michael Cavendish

Clients at a Jacksonville food bank now also have an opportunity to borrow or keep prize-winning works of literature.

The Downtown Ecumenical Services Council, or DESC, has partnered with the Ocean Street Book Club to distribute books to the working poor. DESC is an emergency services ministry founded in 1981 that provides assistance in the downtown area five days a week.

Michael Cavendish is the founder of the book club, a not for profit organization that distributes books to charities and agencies in downtown Jacksonville.

Cavendish believes that literature has numerous benefits and should be accessible to all.

“Books are enriching; literature makes us smarter just by reading it. It doesn’t matter what our previous education is, books gives us a lot of comfort," he said.

"They alleviate boredom and they give us new ideas. They give us perspectives on life and a fresh, renewed connection to the human condition.”

Mary Spuhler, the executive director of DESC, remembered a time when she realized the importance of book donations.

“We had a mother and her third-grader come in here one day for groceries, and when we handed her the food, she said, 'my third-grade son’s teacher said I need to read to him each night. Do you have a book? We don’t have a book'.”

The book club and the ministry officially partnered in April and began distributing books in June.

The first books introduced were Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead.

Since then, about two cases of different books are distributed each month.

You can follow WJCT on Twitter @WJCTJax.