On April 22, 14-year-old Lucas Gabriel, along with his parents, Katrina and Chris Gabriel, delivered a staggering 10,000 books to the Center for Fiction, to be distributed to new York City Schools. The ninth-grader’s book drive began as a community service project to fill a requirement for his school, Christian Brother’s Academy in Lincroft, NJ.
Looking exuberant, proud, and a bit tired all at once, Lucas’s mom explained that he’d had 6 hours left of his 10-hour school community service requirement when he decided to collect some books for kids. Lucas presented the idea to his bibliophile grandfather, Ed Klein, who volunteered to donate 500 books from his own collection. Sadly, Mr. Klein—who read a book a day, according to Lucas’s mother--passed away shortly after that conversation at the age of 76. “He dropped the book he was reading,” Katrina Gabriel said. “Lucas promised to finish it for him.”
In part as a tribute to his grandfather, Lucas began the drive with 500 books selected from Mr. Klein’s library. “I also sent emails to all the PTAs and handed out flyers,” said Lucas, who never expected his project to grow as big as it did. Major contributions came through three New Jersey schools: Families of those attending Christian Brothers Academy donated about 4,000 books; another 2,000 came via Clark Mills in Manalapan; and some 1,300 more from Yellow Duck Preparatory School in Manalapan, NJ. “Our house became a maze of books,” Lucas said.
Lucas’s mother and a teacher helped sort the books by age group, and Lucas and dad boxed them up. Looking online for a great place to donate the books, Lucas found the Center for Fiction’s Books for NYC Schools Program (and helped us surpass our own 5,000 book goal!) The books will go to at least 25 New York City schools in at-risk neighborhoods, where they will be distributed both to school libraries and to individual students.
Lucas, whose favorite author is Harlan Coben, plans to continue the drive each year until he graduates from high school.
Donate Books to NYC Schools
Donate new or gently used K-12 books to our Books for NYC Schools program. Our goal is to gather and distribute 5,000 books a year for public school libraries and classes in at-risk neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Bring books by the Center or ship them to us any time (17 E. 47 St., New York, NY 10017), and check out our program calendar to see which events accept book donations in lieu of cash for admission. LEARN MORE