SOUTHWEST FORSYTH -- A Forsyth County teen recently helped stock the shelves of Brandywine Elementary School’s media center, his organization donating 2,000 books to the school.
Remington Youngblood, a sophomore at Lambert High School and founder of Change4Georgia, a student-led nonprofit, presented the books to the school Dec. 12, nearly doubling its collection.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods, along with Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden and Brandywine’s Principal, Todd Smith, hosted the presentation.
“Change4Georgia has been working with us at the Department of Education to help put books in the hands of many children throughout the state of Georgia,” Woods said. “In fact, over the past year, I think we’ve given out over 100,000 books across the state.”
Youngblood first started Change4Georgia at age 10 after being told he was too young to volunteer in many places.
“We do a lot to help out around our community,” Youngblood said. “We help military veterans, their families, and we have five main initiatives: literacy, homelessness, caring for kids, environment and senior citizens. The one we’re focusing on today is our literacy initiative, and [in total], we’ve collected over 215,000 books.”
Youngblood said his organization partnered with both state and local departments of education.
“They inform us on what schools need books and, knowing Brandywine is a new school, we thought they might need books,” he said.
This is the elementary school’s first year of operation, and while the school is not Title-I – a school that receives federal funding aimed at helping a student body with a large percentage of low-income families – nearly 40 percent of the student body receives free or reduced-price meals, so the school’s principal said he appreciates donations.
“We don’t necessarily have the funds other schools have from the community,” Smith said. “I also think it’s good that kids hear [Youngblood’s] name and see him in person and have a connection that way; it makes it more meaningful.”
Woods said he thinks books are one of the best donations the school could have received.
“Books are one of the most important things because they reinforce literacy, and [we’re] trying to get our kids in a position where they become lifelong readers,” he said. “Reading does, literally, open up the world to many children, especially at times when many don’t get to travel quite as far as they used to. [Reading] really is something that can increase and improve their academic performance. It not only helps out in their English classes, but all classes throughout school.”