Overview and History

"When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" was a question posed to Jesus in Matthew's Gospel, and it is one all of us can ponder. Our country's incarceration rate is the highest in the world with over 0.7% of the population behind bars. Even though many are justly imprisoned, we can follow Jesus' mandate to care for them and their families.

Since its initiation in 2013, Holy Trinity’s prison book ministry has enriched the lives of Illinois prison inmates by annually distributing thousands of books to

  • Stateville Correctional Center for Men in Joliet

  • Fox Valley Adult Transition Center for Women in Aurora

  • Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville

  • Hospice program at Dixon Correctional Center

  • Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Donated print resources useful for students are being sent to Books for Africa and books addressing theology and ministry are being sent to the Theological Book Network for distribution to seminary libraries overseas.         

In order to increase awareness of criminal justices issues and of our Prison Book Ministry, Holy Trinity has sponsored an informational booth at the Printers' Row Lit Fest every June since 2014. In recent years the Prison Ministry has been expanded to supply toiletries, used clothing, art supplies, and notebooks for journaling for the women residents at Fox Valley Adult Transition Center.

Explore this page for ways to help in the future.

How Can I Help?

Participate in Holy Trinity's Prison Book Ministry in these ways:

  1. Begin setting aside used books, according to the Guidelines below and saving boxes appropriate for shipping books, no more than 18" on longest side.

  2. Donate to the fund to supply notebooks for reflective journaling and art supplies for Fox Valley Adult Transition Center for Women in Aurora.

  3. Donate good condition women's clothing, shoes, purses, coats, etc., for use by Fox Valley women entering the labor market. Please deposit in the basket marked "Fox Valley" in the HT Lakeview narthex or give to Pr. Ben Adams at HTLoop.

  4. Donate men’s clothing for the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville.

  5. Learn about the LSSI Storybook Project and click the link for the video. Make monetary donations 

    NOTE: Click the donor designations box and choose Prisoner and Family Ministry. At the very bottom of the form, click in the Special Instructions box and state that the donation is for Storybook Project.

  6. NOTE: If you have donated books or clothing, please know that you can get a gift-in-kind letter from the church office for income tax purposes.



Guidelines for the Prison Book Project

Help improve the lives of men and women in prison and empty your over-crowded bookcases. Do two good things at once by taking part in our annual Prison Book Ministry drive! For five years Holy Trinity has been collecting books for distribution to several correctional institutions, Books for Africa, and Theological Book Network.

How To Help

The number of used books received has declined recently. We assume that means most people have donated what they have, and so we will suspend the collection for Spring 2019. However, please begin saving books for the Spring 2020 appeal—and invite your friends and family to do the same. If you have questions, please email Ryan and Carol LaHurd.

Types of books most needed

reference: legal/job/vocational                                                                                                                                                  resume/interviewing
novels (crime fiction OK)
urban and other contemporary African-American fiction
transgender, bisexual, lesbian fiction
Native American fiction and nonfiction
young adult fiction
fantasy/science fiction
world religions
mental health, especially depression, anxiety and trauma/PTSD
crafts (crochet, beading, card-making, paper crafts)
drawing, painting, and calligraphy
puzzle books, especially Sudoku, word searches, crosswords and fill-ins
language learning—mainly Spanish
dictionaries, including English-Spanish


Both paperback and hardbacks acceptable
Good condition
No personal information (or black out)
No heavy highlighting or marginal notes
Nothing defamatory of any group/belief
No explicit sex or heavy profanity

Boxes Needed

Medium (no more than 18" on longest side) with labels and delivery bar codes removed