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State Honoree

Ewald Visser

Arkansas

Ewald Visser, 15, of Bella Vista, Ark., a freshman at Bentonville High School in Bentonville, conducted a school and community campaign to collect new and gently used books for school libraries in South Africa. During a family visit to South Africa, Ewald discovered that many school libraries were in dire need of books. "This was an upsetting discovery for me, as I love to read," said Ewald. "I could not help but wonder how I could help these school children to experience firsthand what I feel so passionate about."With help from his parents and school principal, Ewald developed a plan. He placed posters all over his school to solicit book donations, and promoted his effort on the school's TV station. Both students and teachers responded enthusiastically; teachers even contributed small prizes for children who brought in books. When a local newspaper and television station picked up the story, donations began flowing in from community members, as well. Ewald labeled and packed the books, and found a cargo company that agreed to transport the boxes to South Africa free of charge. "If I have made the difference in just one child's life by introducing him or her to my love of reading, then this whole project was indeed worth the time and effort," Ewald said. "Great things can be accomplished when many people work together."