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State Honoree

Kelly Shelinsky

Pennsylvania

Kelly Shelinsky, 16, of St. Hubert Catholic High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded Kelly's Books for Bedsides, a campaign to collect new and gently used children's books which are then donated to the local hospital. Kelly believes in the power of books to energize the imagination, and who needs that energy more than a child recovering from an illness in a hospital bed? After spending many nights in Children's Hospital recovering from a chronic illness, Kelly realized that the children's playroom had many toys and games, but only a handful of books. "A book can take you places a frail body cannot," she said. So, three years ago, Kelly began to solicit donations through local newspapers, church bulletins, and word-of-mouth, and has collected more than 3,700 books. Thanks to Kelly's efforts, Children's Hospital has initiated a program called Reach Out and Read, for which books are being placed in the homes of families who have none. She plans to expand Kelly's Books for Bedsides further to help improve literacy among inner city children. "A good idea generates other good ideas," said Kelly.