Cornell bookstore project benefits American Cancer Society

Cornell College students and the Civic Engagement Office staff are becoming business owners of sorts as they make plans to open up a pop-up bookstore in Uptown Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Lexi Woywod ’21 (left) and Hannah Ganzel holding books
Lexi Woywod ’21 (left) and Hannah Ganzel

They’re holding a book drive to collect as many new and gently used books as possible to fill the shelves inside the store located at 122 1st Street SW, next to Bauman’s.

“It should be fun, I’m really excited about it,” said Civic Engagement Office’s Iowa College Americorps Member Hannah Ganzel.

The idea started with a faculty member contacting the Civic Engagement Office with some extra books to sell. After trying it on campus last semester, the group decided to take the idea to the next level.

“I met up with Mount Vernon Main Street and Marketing Director Joe Jennison and said ‘hey, do you think we could do this in the community some time?’ And he said, ‘why don’t we get you a store!’” Ganzel said.

The student group Colleges Against Cancer teamed up with the Civic Engagement Office to follow through with all of the planning. They’re getting the opportunity to use the space rent-free, but they need to find people to work at the store.

“People will work in one-hour shifts,” said Colleges Against Cancer’s Lexi Woywod ’21.  Students, community members, and staff in the Civic Engagement Office will all volunteer their time.”

The pop-up shop will be named Books For Life to reflect the cause behind the project.

“All of this is in anticipation of Relay For Life,” Ganzel said. “All of the funds will go to the American Cancer Society and will be reflected in the final number for how much Relay contributes once that event is over.”

Woywod is looking forward to getting as many people as possible involved with the bookstore project and Relay For Life this year, which will be held Sunday, March 31 from 1–5 p.m. She knows first-hand the importance of raising money for the American Cancer Society because of her experience with the cancer diagnosis of a loved one.

“My grandparents have always lived with our family,” Woywod said. “My sophomore year of high school, we found out my grandpa had lung cancer. We have been dealing with that for quite some time now. We had to go through all the surgeries, and we went through chemo. He’s doing really good now, but I feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve been through all of it. So, I can relate to other people who are  involved in this cause.”

The store will hold an opening event on Feb. 22 from 5–9 p.m. Then, it’ll open from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. every day until March 2, with some additional evening hours on March 1.

The group is collecting books until the store opens. People can drop them off at the Civic Engagement Office in the Thomas Commons on campus, the first or third floors of Cole Library, or the Mount Vernon Visitor’s Center.

Those who shop at the bookstore will also have the opportunity to get a promo code for Relay For Life. The code will reduce the registration fee from $15 to $5 from Feb. 22 through March 2.

If you have any questions, please contact Hannah Ganzel or Lexi Woywod at