Chase Hartman, 11, of Tampa, Fla., a fifth-grader at Mary E. Bryant Elementary School, collected more than 15,000 books with his best friend and donated them to 23 organizations across two states so that kids and others without ready access to books could discover the joy of reading. “I’ve always loved to read,” said Chase. “My parents made sure I had a stocked library in my room and my teachers always have great books in their classrooms.” But last year while working on a book drive that yielded hundreds of books for kids in need, Chase realized there are many children who don’t have books of their own. “I knew I could do more,” he said.
After Chase found a local company willing to give away thousands of books, he and his friend reached out to others for additional book donations on social media, as well as through interviews with the press, collection boxes, and presentations to schools and community groups. Since last August, the boys and other young volunteers they recruited have spent many hours collecting books, sorting them into categories, and delivering them to Title I schools, libraries, ministries, a local veterans hospital and other organizations. “I know we are making a difference,” said Chase. “We are helping kids learn to love reading.”