by Morgan Smith
Tate Rosenblatt needs his classmates to do some spring cleaning in their bookshelves at home. The 12-year-old is asking his neighbors near Matthews and friends at his church, Matthews United Methodist, to clean their shelves too.
Rosenblatt needs the books for the school-wide book drive at his school, Charlotte Preparatory, which kicked off Tuesday, April 10. Books go to Promising Pages, a local nonprofit that puts gently used or new books in the hands of low-income children across Mecklenburg County.
Tate’s passion for reading and community service led the seventh-grader to organize the drive.
“If you don’t have books, then you’re more likely to drop out of school,” Tate said, “and just having books in general … I mean being able to read is probably the most important skill you can have.”
Tate’s parents have always encouraged him to participate in community service projects, whether it’s doing yard work for a neighbor or sorting clothes for a homeless shelter with his church. But for the first time, he is organizing the project on his own with help from his seventh-grade boys advisory group at the school and his little brother Parker, who attends Anami Montessori School. The school also is taking part in Tate’s drive.
Through Promising Pages, Tate and his classmates will collect books to be cleaned, wrapped and delivered to children all over the Charlotte-area through various organizations like Crisis Assistance Ministry, Classroom Central and Freedom School Partners. The organization also hosts “Magic Book Parties,” where the program mascot, Erm the Book Worm, delivers books to Charlotte’s estimated 60,000 children without books of their own.
This summer, the organization is officially kicking off their One Million Books Campaign. Charlotte Prep is giving the program a boost, according to Kristina Cruise, Promising Pages founder, who hopes this becomes an example to other schools.
“Each book you give has the potential to change another child’s life,” Cruise said to an auditorium full of students at the drive’s kick-off event. “We are challenging every one of you to bring in at least 20 books.”
Tate and his family met Cruise at a volunteer event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and after hearing Cruise’s story about the nonprofit, Tate immediately jumped on board. His goal is nearly 2,400 books.
In order to reach his goal, Tate and his classmates have already started to spread the word in and out of the school community.
“We made posters to hang up around the school,” in order to remind students of the three-week drive, Tate said. But the students are going above and beyond and have reached out to area sports teams like the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Bobcats, Charlotte Checkers and Charlotte Knights, asking them to partner with the school for their drive. “The idea is that they’ll collect books at games,” he said.
Tate and his brother also are working on other partnerships with their neighborhood and their church in order to raise the largest amount of books possible. They encourage their classmates to do the same.
Once the drive wraps up April 27, Tate and Parker plan on volunteering at the Promising Pages warehouse near South Boulevard, where they will clean and help wrap books. The boys’ dad, Ed Rosenblatt, sits on the organization’s board.
For Tate, the drive is more about putting books in the hands of kids that are less fortunate than him, and giving back to the community in a way that can change lives.
“Community service … it’s just what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to help people,” Tate said. “The community gives so much to us. We should be able to give back.”
To volunteer or for more information about how you can help, visit www.promisingpages.com.