Lebanon, Indiana … The central Indiana community of Lebanon has been viewed as a sleepy bedroom community for the larger capital city to its south, Indianapolis. While Indianapolis had a metropolitan population of more than two million in 2020, Lebanon was home to just over 16,000. Although much smaller in number, Lebanon’s outpouring of support for the Malawi Project has been massive. In January 2020 Lebanon’s community leaders made warehouse space available for staging three shipments of medical, agricultural, and educational supplies to Malawi. Members of the Parks Department donated their time to help load the trailers, in spite of cold, icy winter weather. Some of the items that were shipped to Malawi were also donated from Lebanon, and they are described below.
During the school year, Boone County Elementary and Middle School officials from Lebanon and Thorntown gathered school supplies and textbooks that were new or gently used numbering in the thousands to place on outgoing shipments to Malawi schools.
An estimated forty-two thousand library books were donated from Karen Burkley and her late husband, Bill. Nearly 20,000 of those books were placed on one of three cargo containers that left in early 2020. A total of nine shipments would be completed by year’s end.
In November the remaining 22,000 books were moved from the basement of a downtown office building to staging warehouses for shipment in early 2021. When word went out requesting volunteers to move the heavy boxes, 23 people arrived one Saturday morning and 32 other volunteers gathered on another Saturday to complete this activity. Their number included members of The Malawi Project board of directors, eight teenagers from Indiana Teen Challenge, several members from the North Central Church of Christ in Indianapolis, several financial advisors and their family members from Edward Jones in Lebanon, and members from the Lebanon church of Christ. Karen Burkley arrived from Carmel, Indiana to observe the relocation of the 22,000 books. Spearheading the book project during the year was Jim Messenger, a member of the Malawi Project’s Board of Directors.
With this kind of tremendous community involvement and local support, the Malawi Project is pleased to now list Lebanon, Indiana as its new office location.
Pictures are the November group who helped move 22,000 books to a staging and storage area, the February group who helped fill one of the outgoing trailers, and Jim Messenger and Lowell Miller who helped spark the interest and involvement that led to the donation of so many books.