Maria Keller's Read Indeed Donates A Million Books!
Maria Keller is the 13-year-old founder of Read Indeed, an organization that collects and donates books to kids who might not have ever owned a book otherwise!
We recently spoke with the young philanthropist about why this cause spoke to her and what compels her to work so hard to help others.
Maria Keller's love for books started before she could even speak.
"My parents read to me from infancy, and I always loved them reading to me," she said.
Maria learned to read when she was 5 years old, and from there her love for reading only grew. As she read more and more, she came to understand the importance of books.
"Books expose readers to so many new ideas and experiences," she explained. "It allows them to explore new world and cultures. Once you really become a reader, someone who LOVES books, you just want to keep reading all of the time."
Maria absolutely loved to read, but it wasn't long before she realized that access to books was something she had taken for granted
"I was an avid reader and I learned that some kids, right here in the U.S., have never owed a book," Maria said. "As a result their test scores are really low. I thought how unfair this is and wanted to do something about it."
Maria was just 8 years old when she started Read Indeed, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes books to kids in need!
Maria set a lofty goal for the organization. She wanted Read Indeed to be able to bring 1 million books to kids who needed them by the time she turned 18.
She started simply by getting the word out.
"With the help of some news organizations, the books began flowing in," she said. "Within a short period of time I had reached a huge number of books."
As the number of donations grew, so did Read Indeed.
"I had to get a warehouse and start having volunteers help me count, sort, and box books to be donated to organizations that serve kids," Maria said.
Maria's day-to-day activities for Read Indeed include writing grants, answering emails, taking part in interviews, contacting publishers for book donations, orchestrating book drives and even working in the warehouse.
Dozens of volunteers help Maria get her job done, and a board of directors oversees the organization.
Toward the end of 2013, Maria reached her goal of 1 million donations. She was 13, and had met her deadline by 5 years.
"I have donated nearly 1.1 million books," she said.
She estimates that, at about 2 books per child, about 500,000 kids have benefitted from Read Indeed.
These books didn't just go to underserved kids in the United States. Books are also donated to Mexico, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Australia, England, Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and several countries in Africa, according to Maria.
Much of the importance of Read Indeed comes from the fact that some don't like to read, particularly because they struggle with it.
"Start slow and take your time to find the type of books that really interest you," she advised. "Once you find that 'gem' you will get hooked. Give it time though and don't give up. Reading is essential for school success!!"
Just this year, Maria also started a Read Indeed Ambassador program, which kids across the country, including you, can get involved with!
"They can host a book drive in their neighborhood, school, church, or community," Maria said. "They gather the books, and then find a local organization to donate them to in Read Indeed's name."
Kids can tell Maria where they've donated the books to and how many have been collected and Maria sends them a special kid that indicates they are Read Indeed Ambassadors!
People who want to help don't necessarily have to donate books, either.
"We can also use financial contributions, so if someone doesn't want to do a book drive but wants to do a fund drive, that'd be great," she said. "Shipping of books is extremely expensive so all financial donations go directly to purchasing new books and shipping books."
Maria hopes that Read Indeed can grow further and benefit more and more children as time goes on.
"I want to try and get books to as many children in the world as possible," she said.
To learn even more about Read Indeed, be sure to follow their social pages below! You can also join us at SweetyHigh.com to tell us about your favorite books and tell us what you do to make a difference in the world!
- Official Website