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State Honoree

Celia Merendi

Florida

Celia Merendi, 14, of South Miami Middle School of the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, initiated a book drive to provide books to students who could not afford their own. Celia understood just how fortunate she was to have had "a room full of books since I was 5 years old." So, when her aunt, a school teacher in an underprivileged area, told her that hundreds of her students did not own books of their own, Celia wanted to help. To get her campaign off the ground, Celia approached the volunteer group in her father's company and distributed a book drive flyer to over 1,500 of its employees. More than 900 new children's books were donated, which Celia categorized by age, boxed and delivered to the elementary school just in time for every student to take home one new book for summertime reading. "I hope to do this project again in the future because it gave me a great feeling," said Celia, who plans to expand the book drive to benefit two schools next year.