The response to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office’s Paperback Book and Puzzle Drive for Detention Center inmates was so tremendous that the Sheriff’s Office ran out of room and had to share the bounty with other counties’ detention facilities.
The numbers are in, and the drive – which ran for the month of January – netted 7,870 books and 493 jigsaw puzzles.
“The community really came through for us,” said Corporal Jennifer Davis, who helped coordinate the project in the Detention Center.
Due to this overwhelming response, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office gave thousands of books and hundreds of puzzles to the Jackson, Platte and Ray County detention centers. Sheriff’s Office staff also separated out books for youth and donated more than 1,000 of them to the Clay County Juvenile Office, which runs detention centers for offenders 17 and younger.
The donations have completely revamped the Clay County Detention Center’s library, which was dwindling down to a limited selection due to wear and tear. The nonprofits that previously provided books to the Detention Center were no longer able to. Several inmates complained there were only romance novels to read, which did not interest a lot of the male population, which averages about 85% of total Clay County inmates.
Inmates are now devouring the wide selection of nonfiction, mystery, thriller and western books that were donated. They’re also eagerly working through puzzles, with some dayrooms finishing a different one every day. Occupied inmates are more likely to keep the peace, making them and Detention Center staff safer.
None of this would have been possible without generous community support. In addition to the hundreds of books and puzzles dropped off daily at the Sheriff’s Office, 23 other locations in Clay County signed up to be collection points:
All seven Clay County branches of the Mid-Continent Public Library
Clay County Government
Holt City Hall
Betty’s Place Restaurant, Holt
Smithville Police Department
First Christian Church of Smithville
Chandler Baptist Church, Liberty
Overflow Coffee and Crepes, Liberty
UAW Local 249, Claycomo
Highlands Community of Christ Church, Kansas City
Journey Church, Liberty
Outreach Christian Education, Avondale
Gracemor Christian Church, Kansas City
Molly Roberts Studio, Excelsior Springs
Kearney Crossroads Community Church
Advanced Health Chiropractic, Claycomo
Walden Middle School, Kansas City
Additionally, the Half Price Books in Independence, Mo., donated 250 books to the drive.
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