Allison Taylor packs up books in her garage to be delivered to Africa. The sophomore has been collecting the books since she was in seventh-grade.
You might think Notre Dame High School-Belmont sophomore Allison Taylor is a pack rat when you happen upon the 76 boxes she has stacked up in her garage, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
These 3,000 pounds of boxes contain books Taylor began collecting a few years ago in an effort to help support literacy in Africa. Now, the 16-year-old Hillsborough resident will travel to Northern Ghana in late July to deliver the 5,600 books. The goal of Taylor’s group, Book Buddies, is to provide recreational reading material to those who lack resources.
“When I was in middle school, we were learning about the literacy rates in Ghana — there is one book to every 12 children,” Taylor said. “I started collecting in seventh-grade and wanted to hit a goal of 5,000 so I could go over and personally deliver them.”
An avid reader, Taylor enjoyed participating in the reading buddy program in her elementary school in which older students support younger students by reading with them.
“I wanted to become a book buddy in fifth-grade and be able to influence kids on how to read,” she said. “When I got older, I thought maybe I should influence more kids.”
During Taylor’s two-week trip to Bolgatanga, Ghana, she will distribute the K-12 level new and gently used books she’s collected through drives and going door to door in Hillsborough, Burlingame and San Mateo. The books will go to 10 schools in Northern Ghana, reaching 2,000 students through Child Action Mobilization project-Ghana, a nonprofit led by Pastor Francis Opoku. Some of the books will go to a new library being built for the children.
Taylor hopes Book Buddies will continue after she graduates from Notre Dame, with underclassmen taking the helm. She wants to continue to collect books for the children herself as well.
“I want to continue this for as long as I can,” she said.
What’s impressed Taylor most is the amount of books and help people are willing to provide for her cause.
“I wasn’t expecting to get this many,” she said.
With $2,000 in shipping costs, at a charity rate, to mail the books to Africa, Taylor held car washes and bake sales to raise funds.
Books in her collection include “Harry Potter,” “Curious George” and “Alice in Wonderland.” The recipients can all read English. Her group is mainly focusing on literacy for younger children now.
Next summer, Taylor plans to collect books for Ethiopia.
Although the books for Ghana have already been shipped off through San Francisco International Airport, Taylor is still collecting books and can be reached at email@example.com.
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