Freshman’s nonprofit donates books to children

Shawn Paik/WSN

In addition to managing her schoolwork, finishing her freshman year and planning her summer, Steinhardt freshman Hediya Sizar also manages a non-profit organization, The Bring on the Books Foundation, which she started with her brother in 2008.

Bringing the foundation to NYU, Sizar focuses on providing literacy opportunities to children across the nation by donating books to underprivileged, abandoned, homeless and abused children.

The foundation has collected and donated over $700,000 worth of books to nearly 70,000 children in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City and Washington, D.C.

“We believe that books are vital and essential for the cognitive growth of a child,” Sizar said. “There should not be any reason why a child in a tough socio-economic status should lack the tools for success — particularly a tool that is simply a few pages with pictures. It’s that simple.”

Sizar, who serves as president of the foundation and manages internal affairs among the high school and college chapters, said her own love of books inspired her to start the Bring on the Books Foundation.

“As a child, books were my sanctuary,” Sizar said. “As a book-lover from an early age, I wanted to build a love for literacy that would inspire youths to reach their full potentials and become writers of their own stories.”

Sizar said her passion for reading motivated her to work with her brother, Sohale — founder and executive director of the foundation — to run book drives to benefit inner-city Philadelphia schools.

Four years later, in 2012, their project became an official non-profit organization, partnering with Georgetown University for their first college chapter. Since then, Bring on the Books chapters have formed at Stanford University and the University of Maryland, among other academic and governmental institutions including NYU.

Sizar said although she was eager for the organization to make an impact at NYU, starting and managing the chapter proved more difficult than she expected, as she also had to adjust to college life.

She organized a smaller-scale winter book drive with a number of freshman residence halls, collecting around 100 gently used children’s books to donate to Covenant House New York and Reach Out and Read of Bellevue Hospital.

Sizar said she hopes to expand NYU’s Bring on the Books chapter in the coming years.

“My goal is to create a larger Bring on the Books community at NYU [and] to bring together a group of passionate students eager to inspire children with the love of reading and storytelling,” Sizar said.

Typically, the organization collects books in all conditions in bins located around communities and universities nationwide through an annual book drive run by students. Volunteers visit the locations they partner with to work one-on-one with children, foster mentorships and provide complimentary college counseling services. Sizar said she hopes to continue to expand the distribution of book and give children everywhere the chance to read.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 28 print edition. Julianne McShane is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected].