NBC 6's Ari Odzer takes a look at how a young girl is helping younger students love the gift of learning by getting them books.
It’s circle time at the preschool, and the boys and girls are about to get a surprise: free books, courtesy of a girl who’s only a few years older than them.
“I wanted to inspire the kids to read,” said Sabrina Schpaliansky, a 10-year-old who started a project to collect used children’s books for needy kids.
Her project was spectacularly successful, and now Sabrina gets to see, first-hand, the rewards of her idea. Faces light up, little girls and little boys are smiling wide, hugging and thanking this big girl who showed up with 2,300 books.
“I’m proud of myself, I think they’re excited,” Sabrina said, after spending 20 minutes reading to the children.
The goal was to persuade parents to donate 500 books. Thanks to the generosity of everyone at Sabrina’s school, Sheridan Park Elementary in Hollywood, the fourth-grader far surpassed her benchmark.
She decided to donate the collection to Kids in Distress, a non-profit organization in Wilton Manors that provides services for at-risk children, some of whom have virtually nothing at home. Sabrina is hoping the books will open a world of possibilities for the kids at KID.
Many of our kids come to us with nothing,” said Mark Dhooge, the CEO of Kids in Distress. “Whether they’re a foster child or living with a relative care giver, they come to our school and don’t have the resources at home to be able to transfer the things they learn at school home, so to be able to bring some books home can make all the difference in the world.”
Dhooge calls Sabrina “a hero” for her efforts.
“This preschool time, birth to five, is paramount in child development and if we can get set up these kids for a successful pre-school opportunity, the ability for them to succeed in school is ten-fold,” Dhooge said.
Sabrina’s parents could not be prouder of their daughter’s spirit of community service.
“And it’s important,” says her dad, Nestor Schpaliansky, “that she keeps her perspective on things and that she understands that she’s doing this because it came from the heart and she’s doing this because she understands that other kids don’t have what she has.”
Sabrina is hoping that other kids see her as an example that philanthropy isn’t just for grownups.
“I think that a lot of kids are gonna learn from this because they’re saying, wow, just a fourth grader can make such a big difference in the world,” Sabrina said.
As the song says, Sabrina’s book is still unwritten, but the first chapter is a real page-turner.
To donate to Kids in Distress, go to www.kidinc.org.