Kay Lauren Miller
Kay Lauren Miller, 17, of Vienna, Va., a junior at James Madison High School, is the founder of Reach Out and Read, Inc. (ROAR), an organization of student volunteers who collect and distribute used books to homeless shelters and other facilities where there are children who cannot afford books of their own. Kay Lauren, who has overcome dyslexia, knows how important it is for children to read. “Reading is the basis of knowledge,” she said, “so I wanted to help make sure that needy children would have books to read.” She began by contacting homeless shelters to see if they needed books, and when several responded, Kay Lauren held her first drive in 1997. Its success prompted her to begin recruiting student volunteers to help her promote future book drives, collect and sort donated books, and get them into the hands of underprivileged kids. To date, she has distributed more than 30,000 books and set up libraries at shelters, daycare centers, and elementary schools in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. She even sent 400 books to a small town in South Dakota after a tornado destroyed its library, and is now planning a project in the Bahamas. Kay Lauren’s long-term goal is to start ROAR chapters in all 50 states.