Stella enjoys a library (courtesy PwP and Room to Read)While we mess around with our Facebook Pages, mobile devices and tweet-crafting, I’d like to pause for a moment and talk about books.

Lots of books, in a place that doesn’t have them, for people who want them very badly.

We’re talking about raising US$80,000 (yes, it’s a lot of zeroes) to build two libraries in Zambia …. the building construction, all the books and educational materials, teacher training and support for three years …. through Passports with Purpose, the annual travel bloggers’ fundraiser.

One of the PwP co-founders, Pam Mandel, is a dear friend of mine and a blogging kindred spirit, so I look forward to this every year. The #PwP hashtag is already jumping on Twitter.

Last year we raised enough money (mostly in US$10 increments) to build an entire village in southern India in partnership with Friends of LAFTI.  This year, PwP is partnering with Room to Read for the libraries.

I started my first travel blog in February 2006, and I’ve supported PwP since the beginning, but this is the first time that I’ve offered a sponsored prize as part of the fundraiser.

It works rather like a raffle – in addition to the goodie I’m showcasing below, you can browse through this full list of travel-related prizes and bid for chances to win whichever ones appeal to you.  At the end of the fundraiser – it runs through December 16, 2011 – one winner of each prize will be randomly selected from all of those who have bid.  A $10 donation per bid is suggested, but if you don’t want to make a donation, mail one self addressed stamped envelope to: Passports with Purpose, P.O. Box 16102, Seattle WA 98116.  Include the name of the prize you are entering to win.

Thanks to Nick from Guerrilla Packs, I get to showcase one of their top backpacks as the Sheila’s Guide PwP prize – the Voltij.  (Shipped to winners in the continental US only – bummer – but the winner can choose red, blue, or orange.)

Voltij Red Backpack (photo courtesy Guerrilla Packs)

This pack is designed for the serious traveler/hiker who needs cleverly designed storage space, comfort, and style.  My favorite feature is the detachable day pack, so you don’t have to look dorky wearing the whole framed backpack walking through, say the Uffizi in Florence or grabbing a bubble tea in Shanghai.

Here are some other Voltij specs:

– Detachable padded laptop sleeve shoulder carry bag
– Aluminum internal frame
– Fully adjustable EVERYTHING!
– Built in compass and thermometer
– Rain cover
– Passport pocket & cell phone pocket
– Supports H20 hydration system
– Sleeping bag / wet clothes pocket

Want to know more?

Here’s a helpful video about the pack (direct link to Voltij demo if you can’t see the embed box below:)

For a chance to win this prize or one of many others, go here to the PwP Prize List/Donate page and follow the directions.

Thanks for your support of Passports with Purpose, and I look forward to showing off some photos of the libraries in the next year or so.

Update May 2012:  Part of the PwP organizing crew traveled to Zambia to see one of the libraries that YOU built. Thanks again!

(If you like this post, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS feed or by email – the email signup box is on the right sidebar near the Search box. Thanks!)