Book drive organizer, Christina Herrick writes about how she honored her son’s memory by hosting a book drive with African Library Project. We’re honored to share her story.

I imagine my initial reason for wanting to do a book drive for African Library Project was different than most. I had recently lost my 18-year-old son, who was an avid reader and had amassed a vast collection of books. When faced with the task of what to do with them all, a friend told me about African Library Project. It was the perfect fit! My son’s books were more precious to him than anything else, and I wanted to make sure that they went somewhere that they would be appreciated. He would have absolutely loved the idea of them being sent to Africa, to start libraries there and help instill a love of reading in other kids.

Of course, he didn’t quite have a thousand books in his collection, so I committed to doing a book drive to collect enough books for a library. I started by asking friends and neighbors, and my daughter put a collection box at her school. And then the domino effect began. One of my friend’s daughters decided that she wanted to help. She started a collection at her middle school, then extended it to the elementary schools in her town. She collected over 3500 books herself! Another friend, who owns a restaurant in our town, offered to put a collection box there, as did my hairdresser. More books! 

Someone else who heard about the project offered to donate the money that he raised from a local fundraiser he ran each year to help cover shipping costs. The daughter of another friend then decided to start a book drive at her high school and collected over 1500 books! There were also complete strangers who helped. I had three different retiring reading specialist teachers who had heard about the project and donated their entire collection of books. A mother who had seen my flyer at the nature center where I volunteer, emailed me and wanted to donate books. She then told me that her children and some of their friends had run a lemonade stand all summer to raise money to help with shipping costs.

The books keep coming and coming. I had hoped to collect enough books to start one library. I am now working on my seventh! And I have just heard about another student who wants to collect books this year in our town’s middle school, so we are not finished yet! I have been extremely touched by the outpouring of support. Besides all of the book donations, there have been 26 people who have been involved in helping to pack up the books and get them to the post office for shipping. I have been keenly aware of how much people are truly enjoying being able to help on this project. Everyone is just feeling so good! I am so happy to be honoring my son’s memory through this wonderful project.