She wanted to collect 250 books for kids in need — and went way, way over her goal.

Julia Foos saw a need in her community, so she decided to fill it.

For the 17-year-old bookworm, the idea that some kids don’t have any books of their own is unfathomable — and unacceptable. When Foos was 14 and a freshman in high school, she read an article about how many children in the Cleveland area don't have easy access to books. That reality lit a fire in her to do something.

"I think that kids who don't have access to books are missing out on opportunities to learn new things, explore different worlds, and increase the use of their imagination," says Foos. "Books can pull you into another world or teach you things you might never have thought of before."


Foos couldn't imagine having grown up without books, so she decided to help kids in the Cleveland area get books of their own.

So excited to be working on a special project this month! At the end of March I am donating a bookcase filled with...

Posted by Books Offer Opportunities for Kids on Thursday, March 1, 2018

Her Books Offer Opportunities for Kids (BOOK) project has collected and donated 25,000 books — in just three years.

"When I started this project, my goal was to collect 250 books," says Foos. "I reached out to family and friends, and after two weeks, I had collected over 500. It felt good and I thought that if I collected that many in two weeks, I wanted to try to collect more."

She set an ambitious goal to collect 25,000 books — a hundred times her original goal — by her senior year. She reached it a year early. Her secret? A personal touch. Foos reaches out to individuals, schools, and organizations and asks for donations of new or gently used books.

One she gets them, she passes them on to literacy organizations like Reach Out and Read, Cleveland Kids' Book Bank, and United Way's Stuff the Bus with Books campaign. "I wanted to get as many books as possible to kids who needed them. I donate the books to nonprofits that share this same mission."

Reading to kids and helping them pick out books to keep is the best. They get so excited to get books of their own!

Posted by Books Offer Opportunities for Kids on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Foos engages with the community she's serving — by reading with them, of course.

When she first started her project, it was just about collecting and donating books. But now she's started seeing the fruits of her labor firsthand.

"Over the past year, I began having events where I had contact with the kids who needed books," says Foos. "Their reactions were truly heartwarming. They were so excited to realize that they could pick out whatever books they wanted, as many as they wanted, that they were free, and that they could keep all of them. They couldn't believe it and it made me so happy! I was also able to read with kids, which I absolutely loved."

Teens can do amazing things when they are informed and encouraged.

Foos is making a measurable difference in her community with BOOK. Cleveland has one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation, and according to the Children's Literacy Foundation, 61% of low-income children in the U.S. grow up without any books in their home.

Foos became aware of the need, then she took the initiative to do something, even a modest something, to help remedy it. With encouragement from her parents and others in the community, she has exceeded even her own expectations — and she's not done. She hopes to collect 10,000 more books next year.

This generation of young people just keeps showing up and showing us what they're capable of.

A big THANK YOU to Homa Bash WEWS for helping me share my passion for reading!! Had a great time yesterday!

Posted by Books Offer Opportunities for Kids on Wednesday, June 27, 2018
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One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

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Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

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Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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