South Jersey Student Spreads Love of Literacy Through Book Drive

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CAMDEN, N.J. -

Twenty-five hundred books — that’s how many donations 14-year-old Charlotte Olson and her mother, Vicky, hope to collect for children without access to reading material.

Charlotte says her idea to spread literacy started with a summer getaway.

“[It started] when we went to Haiti the summer before we started collecting the books," says Charlotte. "[On] our trip to Haiti, I saw that those kids had nothing and I was like well I bet that there’s kids around me that don’t have very much either.” 

“It’s just so important to read and it helps with education," says Vicky. "All the way along the road, reading comes into education and it’s just so important." 

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Partnering with officials with the national organization Reach Out and Read, Charlotte and her mother will accept new and gently used children’s fiction books until Thursday, February 28th.

All of the books will go straight to CAMCare in Camden, and their effort is spreading far and wide among local businesses.

“We’ve managed to get word out so we have a lot of businesses around the area not just in West Berlin," says Vicky. "They’ve all been extremely receptive.” 

In year’s past, Charlotte received recognition from a member of Congress.

“Donald Norcross ... we got it in the mail and we didn’t know that it was coming. I was really surprised by that,” says Charlotte.

“I’m extremely proud," says Vicky. "It's been a lot of hard work to do these books. We’ve had a lot of driving around, a lot of picking up, and a lot of man hours into counting books, sorting books. She’s worked incredibly hard.” 

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The Pop Shop in Medford is one out of nine collection locations for Charlotte’s book drive.

Collection points throughout Camden County include B-Tan in Berlin, Winslow Animal Hospital, and Innovative Orthodontics in Sicklerville.

Family Health Center, Elmwood Family Physicians and Friends of Marlton Lakes free library in Marlton are all accepting donations.

Those in Mount Laurel can visit House Paws Vets in Training.

To learn more, visit reachoutandread.org/about-us.

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