Posted by Jordan Gerard - Editor the Caledonia Argus

There’s something to be said for the longevity of school desks after they seat students for many years. Once districts update their furniture, what happens to the old desks?

For 50 desks at Caledonia High School, they get a new purpose in Africa, through a program called “Books for the World.” 

Last Tuesday, the desks were loaded onto a truck from Dakota Supply Group (DSG) and headed to Madison, Wisconsin. From there, they’ll be shipped down to the Second Wind Foundation in LaPorte, Texas and eventually to Africa to English-speaking parts of the continent. 

It’s all thanks to a network of Rotarians, including Caledonia Rotary Club member Steve Reiman. 

“I heard about it through a Rotarian in La Crescent, Bill Ohm,” he said. “He is a friend of a Rotarian in Madison, Thom Weiss.”

Through this network of friends and Rotarians, Reiman learned they were having difficulty in coordinating the transportation of the desks to the facility in Madison. 

When Ohm asked Reiman about helping out, Reiman was up for the task. He contacted Dakota Supply Group from La Crosse, Wisconsin through a friend who is an employee there. 

Once permission was granted from the branch management, they came up with a vehicle and a time to load the desks. Reiman then worked with Russell Peterson, part of the facilities/maintenance crew at the school, to coordinate the rest of the task.

“To me it pointed to the fact that because the rotary is a world-wide organization, you can always contact someone who can get it done,” Reiman said. “I never met Thom Weiss but he was in touch with a guy down in Texas who coordinated the shipping.”

He added he hoped the school district would donate desks or other older school supplies to the organization and hoped to get other area districts involved too. 

“I felt good about it. To think about we’re just a small part of the world in Caledonia, but we’re a little bit bigger part of the world when we can do something like this,” he added. Reiman has been a member of the Caledonia Rotary Club since 2003. 

In addition to school furniture, Books for the World (Wisconsin chapter) also accepts text books, teacher resources, encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesaurus, library and general reading books.

In 2018, the organization shipped seven truckloads of books. Since its start in 2005, Wisconsin Books for the World has shipped approximately 4 million pounds of books.