Changing the lives of kids, one book at a time

INDIAN TRAIL – Lexie Phillips loves books.

Ever since she was in middle school, the Sun Valley High School senior has enjoyed learning, exploring and escaping reality through the pages of a good book. Lexie recently began brainstorming about how she could help children in the community foster their own love for reading and ultimately settled on starting a charity for literacy called HOME. Her first project was a book drive to benefit the clients of Turning Point Domestic Violence Shelter.

“With all these kids are going through – leaving their homes and everything – reading kind of takes them out of reality for a little bit,” she said.

The drive began Monday, Nov. 4, and runs two weeks, through Nov. 18. Lexie and her schoolmates will be collecting books of all kinds for all ages, to be distributed to children at Turning Point. Her goal is to collect 500
books.

One of the things Lexie hopes this drive will accomplish is to increase the literacy rate among area children. She’s experienced first hand the way reading influences a person’s knowledge and ability to communicate.

“Books have so much content in them from one thing to another. They range very widely,” she said, adding she has a better feel for others’ life experiences from the things she’s read in books. “I (also) have a pretty good vocabulary, and I attribute that to the reading I’ve done.”

But Lexie discovered something alarming – one in four children in America are illiterate. That fact, she said, is what encouraged her more than anything to collect books for area children.

“One of the main goals is to bring it to light how big of a problem illiteracy is. That made me really want to do a book drive,” she said. “I’ve learned a little about literacy and how it’s a problem, and I wanted to do something to fix that.”

Lexie began planning the book drive earlier this year. With the help of her mom, she reached out to several different organizations before settling on Turning Point – the organization she says gave the most positive response to the book drive idea.

“I wanted to see who could really benefit the most from the books,” she said. “We’ll definitely be able to reach more age groups there.”

Since launching the drive, several clubs and organizations at Sun Valley have jumped on board, including the varsity cheerleaders, the National Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. Once the books are collected, Lexie will recruit a team of volunteers to help organize and categorize the books by age and type.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive response,” she said. “A lot of people are really excited to help me with this.”

Sun Valley has been spreading the word via morning announcements and social media. The school, at 5211 Old Charlotte Hwy., has drop-off locations set up in the office and several classrooms. There’s also a drop-off location at the Indian Trail Sweet Frog, 6443 Old Monroe Road. Donations from the community are welcome.

“For these kids to be able to escape their reality, if they’re stressed or worried about something, I feel like that can help,” she said.

Email tammievphillips@gmail.com for information on how to donate to the drive.

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