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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Former Lexington Councilmember, Jake Gibbs, always believed books changed lives and worked closely with the International Book Project before he passed away three years ago. The nonprofit continues to honor his legacy with a yearly book drive.

The book drive kicked off yesterday and wraps up on March 18, which happens to also be Gibbs’ birthday. So far, the nonprofit has collected about 700 books. The goal is 5,000.

The International Book Project accepts gently used children’s books, college textbooks, and adult fiction and non-fiction books. They can be dropped off at the warehouse (1440 Delaware Ave.) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Donations will benefit several programs, including Books in the Bluegrass, Habitat for Humanity, and libraries in Eastern Kentucky.

Book drives, similar to this one, have helped thousands of Kentuckians throughout the years, and Gibb’s widow, Anita Courtney, didn’t want that to slow following her husband’s unexpected death.

“When you lose someone, you lose what they gave to the world. I wanted to keep the good that Jake did going in the world, and the way to do that was through books,” said Courtney.

Gibbs wasn’t just an avid reader and an International Book Project volunteer. He was an educator, teaching history and philosophy at Bluegrass Community College. He was a civic leader, serving Lexington’s 3rd District and co-founding the Trees Lexington! initiative. He was a businessman, owning Alfalfa restaurant. And he was a well-loved member of the community, touching the lives of so many Kentuckians.


New this year, organizers are hosting an open house to celebrate Gibb’s memory. The International Book Project is open Saturday specifically for his birthday and the event. Guests can shop at the bookstore, tour the warehouse, and eat a cupcake or two. They can also grab a bookmark that says his favorite quote, “always bring a book.”

“It’s always very tender on his birthday, but to know that we’re doing something that he cared about and that we are carrying on what was important to him, makes it a little easier,” said Courtney.

For more information, visit their website.