The Magazine Literacy Bank upcycles magazines down the last mile into the hands homes and hearts of at-readers

Over a billion magazines across over 7,000 titles in the US alone are printed each year. We love love love them, but what happens to them after we read them?

The Magazine Literacy Bank operated by MagLiteracy.org, with locations in Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Toronto, and India – like a food bank and the only program of its kind in the world – rescues every copy it can from consumers, publishers, and newsstands, and delivers them to literacy programs at food pantries, homeless, domestic abuse, and trafficking shelters, mentoring and job training programs, schools, foster care agencies, and more.

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‘Feeding their minds’: Johnstown nonprofit operates first literacy bank

Joyce Roberts, of Newark, chooses items for her granddaughter from the shelves of magazines at the Food Pantry Network of Licking County.

Read Columbus Dispatch Article

Céilí Doyle The Columbus Dispatch

NEWARK — Joyce Roberts stood at the entrance of the Food Pantry Network of Licking County, one hand cocked on her hip, the other clutching an armful of magazines as she continued perusing the newsstand, waiting for a glossy title to catch her eye.

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Quad Donates $25,000 to MagLiteracy.org to Kickstart Creation of National Literacy Marketplace

Donation Supports Efforts to Combat Poverty Amid Rising Challenges From the COVID-19 Pandemic and Persistent Social Issues

September 10, 2020

SUSSEX, Wis. & COLUMBUS, Ohio — In celebration of International Literacy Day and the 16th anniversary of the founding of MagLiteracy.org this week, Quad announced today that it has donated $25,000 to MagLiteracy.org to kickstart the creation of a first-of-its-kind national literacy marketplace. The marketplace, a nationwide network of regional literacy banks, will facilitate donations of new, recycled or expired magazines and comic books to local literacy programs – an important tool in combatting poverty.

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BoSacks – Pandemic Publishing Roundtable

Pandemic Publishing Roundtable: An Industry-Wide Celebration

By Linda Ruth on August 22, 2020 – reprinted

John Mennell is throwing a party, and we are all invited. In fact, John says, he wants every industry stakeholder—every printer, shipper, distributor, retailer and publisher—to join him in celebrating literacy.

John joined the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable–Joe Berger, Samir Husni, Bo Sacks, Sherin Pierce, Gemma Peckham, and me–on Wednesday to talk about his vision.

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Bosacks Speaks Out

Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

April 20, 2020 – reprinted

Special people and special companies deserve a shout out of thanks and gratitude from time to time. In this case, I want to bring to your attention the tireless work of John Mennell of MagazineLiteracy.org and Joel Quadracci of Quad Graphics. In my book they are unsung heroes performing necessary acts of kindness valiantly even though behind the scenes.

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John Mennell interview with Mr. Magazine – Samir Husni

Building a Pipeline to Literacy – One Magazine at a Time – This is the Goal of John Mennell, Founder of MagazineLiteracy.org, an Organization Dedicated to Feeding the Minds and Spirits of People with the Wonderful World of Magazines…

March 12, 2014 – reprinted

The printed magazines are so important. The experience of holding a printed magazine in your hand and reading it, the experience of finding some time and reading a print magazine is so valuable.” John Mennell, MagazineLiteracy.org Founder

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Make literacy funding personal to change lives and the world for good

By John Mennell

Like food and water, literacy is essential for humans to thrive.

At MagLiteracy.org, we are blessed with so much generous support from thousands of donors and volunteers, and community leaders who make our mission possible. As I write this, I am $469 in to a $170 Facebook birthday fundraising campaign to support MagLiteracy.org.

I am sharing the details of this fundraiser to show a way you can bring in the much needed financial support that allows us to meet growing literacy needs. Whether it’s your birthday or any other idea that you have to inspire others to support your own MagLiteracy.org fundraising campaign, we appreciate every dollar you raise and gift to our literacy mission.

The people you know will support your fundraising if you support it yourself and tell your personal experiences. Here’s my story that I posted on Facebook.

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PR – MagLiteracy.org Literacy Bank Seeks Tornado Relief Brigade to Deliver Reading Materials from Ohio to Children and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2021

CONTACT: John Mennell, Founder

help@magliteracy.org. 609.651.8430

Columbus, OH – With a supply of over 300,000 children’s magazines, and thousands more for teen and adult readers, the Magazine Literacy Bank, operated by Magliteracy.org, is seeking relief workers, church missions, utility crews, and first responders, traveling from or through the Columbus, Ohio area to tornado struck towns in Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and elsewhere, to transport and deliver boxes of reading materials to relief programs and schools for children and families.

The materials will be available for pick-up at the Magazine Literacy Bank warehouse in Johnstown, Ohio. Those interested should contact help@magliteracy.org. 

“We currently have a very large supply of reading materials for children and readers of all ages at the Magazine Literacy Bank near Columbus, Ohio,” said John Mennell, founder of MagLiteracy.org. “We are ready to respond to this disaster to comfort children and families, many who have lost everything they know, but need transportation support,” he added. 

“The very first needs in the wake of a natural disaster relate to life, safety, shelter, food, water, and other essentials,” acknowledged Mennell. “With so many children and families displaced by the storms, many homeless and in shelters for long periods of time, our literacy materials can help bring comfort, and can support rebuilding a community’s schools and educational programs,” he said. 

“Whenever a child or a family needs shelter, whether due to a storm, job loss, trafficking, or domestic abuse, sharing the reading materials we love, simply, but powerfully says – ‘we see you’, and delivers much needed comfort,” he added. 

MagLiteracy.org’s first natural disaster response delivered children’s magazines to all the Head Start programs in Mississippi, and to Gulf Coast Boys and Girls Clubs after Hurricane Katrina. The organization has responded to hurricanes in Florida, and through the Carolina’s, and to Super Storm Sandy. 

“With publisher and consumer support, we’ve also reached and comforted large numbers of children and moms in a Las Vegas domestic violence shelter, and in Wisconsin, and delivered to trafficked children in Texas, and supplied cooking magazines to an Ohio shelter and culinary job training program for trafficked women,” said Mennell. “By sharing literacy love, our industry-wide program connects people across communities via common interests, as reflected in their favorite magazines,” he added. 

About MagLiteracy.org

MagLiteracy.org (Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project, Inc.), a 501c(3) charity with operations in Ohio, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Alabama, Canada, and India, is the first and only initiative of its kind in the world, operating like a food bank, but rescuing good condition magazines for literacy deliveries. Consumers, publishers, and retail newsstands donate vast quantities of magazines that are sorted, packed, and delivered to at-risk readers via community literacy programs, including food pantries, shelters, schools, youth mentoring, and job training programs, across the US, and around the world in places such as the central and Kashmir regions of India, Uganda, Croatia, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and to Inuit schools north of the Arctic Circle.


Celebrating teachers who change lives for good

If you’ve ever mentored a middle school or high school student, you know that a child unable to read is lost – unable to do well in any school subject. Adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how.

We’ve all heard the stories about teachers who reach deep down into their pockets to provide their students with much needed school supplies.

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Thank you to the volunteers who make our literacy story possible

Our literacy success depends on investments of treasure, time, and talent. With a growing market of over 7,000 print titles in the US alone, matching every reading age, enthusiasm, professional aspiration, and language, magazines for literacy are more precious than gold.

This year we received over a half-million magazines upcycled by consumers, publishers, and newsstands, and put them into the hands and homes of 250,000+ at-risk child, teen, and adult readers, coast to coast, and overseas. There is so much more to do to reach our literacy promise.

Over a billion magazines are printed each year in the USA, enough laid end to end to circle the earth almost 8 times or to stretch near to the moon. We know we need to reach tens of millions of at-risk readers with every copy we can rescue. The heavy lifting of receiving, sorting, and packing the magazines for delivery to literacy programs is done by a virtuous army of volunteers. It’s a heavy literacy lift well worth the end result – smiles on the faces of new readers, many with zero books at home, and poor access to media for education or enjoyment.

Thank you to all the hundreds of volunteers who make our literacy mission possible. We succeed on the shoulders of hundreds more who came before. When I think about what we do at MagLiteracy.org – operating the only Literacy Bank network in the world, and why we do it – to share the literacy love that eradicates poverty of the mind, heart, and pocket to change lives for good, Ken Johnson, who runs our Wisconsin office, is spot on with this excerpted story about stewardship and his own journey.

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Literacy on a roll

By Abigail Jacob

Four states, 750 sprawling miles, eight days of driving: that is what lies between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio. It’s not a journey that many choose to make. But for Dwight and Mary Demaine, the trip was well worth it in order to deliver their precious collection of 250 Gourmet magazines and cookbooks to the Ohio Literacy Bank.

Before this road trip, the recipe magazines and books the Demaines had acquired over 40 years were ready to take on a new life to bring their same joy to kindred at-risk readers. They try to donate what they can; the couple even has staple donating spots in their local area. However, finding a place that wanted magazines was a struggle – at least, until the DeMaine’s discovered MagLiteracy.org.

“We were very surprised when we found your site,” says Dwight Demaine. “It’s unusual to find a place that wants older magazines, so we were very happy to find [MagLiteracy].”

The culinary magazines MagLiteracy receives are more valuable than what one might originally think, and often go to culinary training programs for unemployed or homeless people, helping hundreds achieve their dreams of working in the restaurant and culinary industry. But getting these precious materials can be difficult when considering not only the short supply, but also the shipping fees. Shipping costs can be expensive, especially when there are hundreds of magazines to deliver. Rather than let hundreds of dollars be spent on shipping, where materials could potentially become damaged enroute, the Demaines decided on a better method of transporting the magazines: a road trip.

On July 18th, Dwight and Mary and set off on their interstate trip, their magazines packed neatly into boxes and arranged into clean rows in the back of their car. When they arrived at the Ohio Literacy Bank, they dropped their donations off at the warehouse and met with MagLiteracy volunteers, including founder John Mennell.

“We’ve always considered the enormous potential of giving literacy a lift. By filling car trunks, we are crowdsourcing the movement of magazines through our supply chain, from donors through to delivery to literacy programs for new readers,” explains Mennell.

“It was wonderful meeting people who are so committed,” says Mary Demaine.

The couple’s generosity didn’t stop there. The literacy bank had magazines that needed to be sent to the local magazine bank in Madison, Wisconsin. Once again, the issue of shipping arose. Luckily, there was already a solution to this problem: volunteers delivering the magazines personally on their way back home.

The Demaines agreed to help get the magazines from Columbus to Madison. So, for the second time that week, magazines were stacked into crates and packed up into the car trunk before they left – this time in the direction of Madison, Wisconsin.

“Mary and Dwight DeMaine of Minneapolis did an extraordinary favor for the Madison office by packing their Prius full of great magazines at the Ohio warehouse and dropping them off in Madison on their way home,” says Ken Johnson who heads up the Madison operations.

Thanks to the generosity of Mary and Dwight Demaine, MagLiteracy.org was able to receive and transport hundreds of magazines across the country – with free transportation, no less. The Demaines’ commitment to doing good, whenever and however they can, is awe-inspiring, and sets an example for all.

Abigail Jacob is a student living in northern New Jersey. She spends most of her free time with her head in a book. Through MagLiteracy.org, she hopes to help spark a similar passion for reading and open up pathways for others.

A long-time magazine literacy hero calls home

Today, we received a phone call at the Ohio Literacy Bank from Diana, who lives in a small Ohio town. She needed our mailing address. Diana has been buying copies of Highlights for Children and Taste of Home magazine, and more from her local newsstand every few months, recently over $80 worth of magazines, and shipping them to MagLiteracy.org to share her magazine love with kindred at-risk readers. She always includes a nice note, and wants to hear back that we received them.

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Literacy volunteers mark MLK Day with a weekend of service to reach thousands of readers, worldwide

Literacy is a light to brighten the lives of those in humanity’s dark corners. This weekend, an army of volunteers descended on the Ohio Literacy Bank and other places, to upcycle thousands of donated magazines to at risk readers reached via food banks, pantries, and schools in Ohio, a women’s homeless shelter in New York City, programs serving school children and families in Memphis, Mississippi, and Alabama, schools in central India, and a humanitarian organization in the Kashmir region.

Friday – volunteers transport thousands of donated magazine from Barnes & Noble stores to the Ohio Literacy Bank warehouse and to Ohio State student and service organizations for literacy sorting and packing. Daily shipments of recycled magazines arrive from consumers and publishers across the USA. Volunteers sorting magazines at home deliver finished bundles and pick up more to work on.

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This remarkable literacy brigade is thriving at Ohio State University during the pandemic.

Reading our stories at MagLiteracy.org, you will see that young people wanting to make lasting change for good are the wind in our literacy sails.

Our first magazine recycling project was organized by a classroom of kindergarten students in San Francisco for children at a nearby homeless shelter.

This story is how Ohio State University student Sravya Patibandla has persevered through pandemic darkness to shine our literacy light for thousands of at-risk children and families when it’s needed now more than ever.

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Thank you Atrium Corporation for elevating our literacy mission

Many thanks to the wonderful people who own and operate the Atrium Corporation warehouse in Johnstown Ohio. Their support has enabled us to launch our popup Ohio Literacy Bank. When we received word of a supply of over 100,000 children’s magazines, Atrium stepped up to receive the pallets and allow our volunteers, including their own staff and families, to sort the boxes for delivery to summer feeding and reading programs around Columbus, and from West Virginia to Detroit.

A mountain of kid’s magazines pops up in central Ohio just in time for summer feeding and reading
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A gifted magazine sparks a memory of an early MagLiteracy.org mentor – Austin Kiplinger

By John Mennell

I opened a bin of magazines donated to our literacy project to find these two very special publications – Kiplinger Personal Finance and Highlights for Children High Five.

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Moving magazines and comics down the last mile into the hands, homes, and hearts of eager readers for literacy

At one end of a twenty mile span of the 101 just north of Hollywood, there is a reader with a cherished collection of over 4,000 Marvel comic books who wants to share them – gift them – to new readers for literacy. He is a literacy superhero. At the other end is a teacher in a school near the border of East Los Angeles who wants to put these and other reading materials into the hands, homes, and hearts of students who literally have zero books at home. She and her colleagues who are answering this highest calling are literacy superheroes. Together, the consumer and the teacher are challenging us all to rise up to meet the challenge and the responsibility to bridge their enormous literacy opportunity to change lives for good.

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Marines bring the literacy fight against poverty

To the Marines and other service members and veterans who recycle their favorite magazines to MagLiteracy.org, thank you for your service.

Magazine enthusiasts gift their favorite titles, like these Marine Corp Gazette, Leatherneck, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and Marine Corp University Journals, to MagLiteracy.org for delivery to eager at-risk readers via our literacy newsstands in food pantries, homeless shelters, youth mentoring, STEM, job training, and other literacy programs. With titles for every age, interest, professional aspiration, and language, magazines and comics are the most powerful literacy engines on the planet.

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Moving mountains of magazines into the hands and homes of eager at-risk readers

The National Wildlife Federation, the very first publisher to back our global literacy moonshot 25 years ago, has just gifted MagLiteracy.org enough Zoobie magazines to reach 18,000+ parents to read with their infants and children.

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Many hands make light work filling this literacy pipeline to eager readers

As we might have learned from Gus in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and found in Wikipedia,”haptic” is from the Greek word haptόs for “palpable”. The sense of touch enhances our ability to learn. Studies show that human information retention and learning improve when print reading materials are held and pages are turned. So, the physical experience of reading combines with the visual and other senses to produce advantages in “getting a handle on a subject” to “grasp” concepts and lessons for, as Oprah would say, living our best life.

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Thank you – words worth a thousand pictures

This thank you note made our day today and more. Thank you to everyone who carries and passes on our #literacy flame to change lives for good.

We are posting this thank you note from a homeless program we serve as a way to share it to thank the thousands of volunteers, businesses, publishing, printing, donors, recyclers, and other literacy champions who make our at MagLiteracy.org mission thrive. Thank you!

The families being serviced here are presently enduring the battle of homelessness. Often the children we service are arriving and enduring this very difficult situation with just what they are currently wearing and nothing else. Being able to receive your donation empowers that child in a very special way.

The excitement and joy that was expressed by the children receiving these magazines was a very special moment for all, especially for those receiving and those whom were fortunate to witness the huge smiles as they searched through the selections. I extend to you a special appreciation for the various genres of magazines provided to select from. I must inform you that the young teenageers in attendance were elated with the sports magazines and often during the fair they had conversations of various players and were eager to explore the pages and share facts.

Cricket Media and Quad deliver 200,000+ literacy smiles

Fueled by a generous donation of over 200,000 high quality children’s magazines from Cricket Media, and expert logistics transport, warehousing, and delivery to literacy programs by the Quad company, our planets have aligned to launch our literacy mission to new heights.

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Adopting literacy needs, one newsstand at a time.

There is no i in WE. Underscoring the power of one person to mobilize colleagues and more to help others for good,

Claudia in operations at the WE PR firm in #Austin braved SXSW to deliver magazines to this MagLiteracy newsstand for homeless street youth and young adults.

Our first batch of 100 newsstands are underwritten by long-time champions WIDEN.

We need more literacy ambassadors like Claudia and WE, and more newsstands!

Stay tuned for the rest of the Austin Street Youth story, including more dear literacy friends who joined together there as a model for how we will adopt programs one by one, coast to coast.

Grassroots literacy teams sow the seeds of freedom, prosperity, and civility to end poverty for good, one reader, one village at a time

By Amelia Robinson

“Personally, as a first generation student, education is something I’m very passionate about, and what got me interested in volunteering at MagazineLiteracy.org. The work being done to promote literacy in the greater Madison area is critical in the hopes of ending poverty, and I’m very fortunate to be part of it.”  — Abish Kharel – UW UNICEF Club

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