Book drive organizers Serena Kapoor and Marilyn Walters are both passionate about books and community service. But there is one big difference: Marilyn, age 79, is one of the oldest people to organize an ALP book drive, while Serena, age 8, was the youngest to run a book drive by herself. Their secret? Both volunteers used a proven strategy: Start small, think big, and ask for help!

Serena learned about ALP from a website that matches children with volunteer projects.  She started her book drive with one book collection box at her pool.  Then she got permission from her school to put boxes there. Finally, she made a speech to a meeting of Girl Scout leaders, many of whom got their troops involved in collecting books and raising money.  She collected 3,000 books!  Serena’s Mom found a local company to donate the domestic shipping, and Serena’s fundraising efforts helped to contribute to the international shipping.  Serena has never been to Africa, but she hopes to visit Lesotho one day to see “her” library.

Marilyn also found ALP online when she searched for a way to send books to Africa.  She had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Tanzania where teachers and principals told her about their desperate need for books.  Marilyn started by talking to the librarians in a school district where she used to teach.  As the books rolled in, her husband was her best volunteer, helping her pack all the books! She didn’t have enough boxes of the right size, so she mentioned it to the staff at the storage rental facility where she was keeping the books, and they donated the boxes.  Marilyn is already planning her next trip to Africa.

These inspiring leaders show that anyone can start a library in Africa, regardless of age, when they “start small, think big, and ask for help.”  Do you know someone who might start a library?