It was on this day two years ago that Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the eastern seaboard, devastating many towns, including school and community libraries. Thankfully volunteers like Jonathan Schneck of Dix Hills, NY, mobilized to replenish local classroom and community libraries, putting books back into the hands of young people. And Jonathan’s work continues today.
During the crisis Jonathan provided books to shelters and reached out to families who lost their home libraries in effort to put books in the hands of as many children as possible. Once the cleanup advanced in the aftermath of the storm and students returned to their classrooms, they were excited to see bookshelves stocked with their favorite books. Parents could even stop in to replenish their own collections that might have been lost to the storm.
Jonathan, now 17 years old, is president of Reading Reflections, an organization founded in honor of the legacy of his grandparents, dedicated to promoting literacy by providing books to those who could not otherwise afford them. Jonathan has inspired his fellow classmates, bookstores, publishers, businesses and others throughout Long Island to contribute to Reading Reflections book drives, powered by a volunteer infrastructure that collects sorts and packs more than 75,000 books annually.
Jonathan recalls at age 8 how he couldn’t imagine growing up without books. “When my older brothers and I learned about the barren school library in a family friend’s hometown in Guyana, we organized a book drive,” he recalls. Jonathan distributed flyers and placed a collection box in his third grade classroom. Flash forward a decade and the impact of this work has transcended international borders through partnerships with H2Empower and Hope and Dreams Initiative to create libraries in rural regions of Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria.
What advice does this difference maker have for others who want to build a cause? “Be patient.” Jonathan says. “Reading Reflections started with one book drive and grew over many years. We now donate over 75,000 books annually but we were just as proud of our first project when we sent 500 books to a library in need.”
Jonathan is leading the way for the community and he feels the rewards. “The most immediate reward is the excitement of placing a book directly into the hands of a child who does not have access to books,” Jonathan says, “but even more gratifying is the potential for long-term impact.”
Points of Light wants to know about the people who are making a difference in your community. Nominate a volunteer doing exceptional work for the Daily Point of Light Award today at http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs/recognition/dpol/nomination.