This summer, rather than simply enjoy all that Westport offers, Lucy de Lande Long decided to help others. She assigned herself a project: build a library in Africa.
She’s spent the past few weeks collecting books for children in preschool through 8th grade (and raising money to cover shipping to Sierra Leone). She’s working through an organization called African Library Project.
So far, Lucy has built a website, designed a logo, established a donor link, created an Instagram account, and developed a flyer so people can contribute or arrange a pickup in Fairfield County or Manhattan.
Admirable work, for sure. What’s even more impressive is that Lucy just finished 7th grade.
She goes to Chapin School in New York. But Lucy has spent every summer of her life in Westport, so she’s a local.
She’s a ballet dancer and a singer (modern and Italian operettas). She also reads — a lot.
Lucy loves this project because it involves 2 things very important to her: literacy and Africa. Her school has a long association with a school in Kibera, with Skype chats and donations of uniforms, supplies and funds.
Lucy has seen how books can breed curiosity. She wants everyone to “immerse themselves in new worlds through stories and characters. Books are the building blocks for education. They spark imagination and dreams. They’re pretty fun, too.”
Those are her words. This is no ordinary rising 8th grader.
She is 3/4 of the way to her goal of collecting 1,000 books, and heading to $500 for shipping. She’s enlisted the help of family and friends.
Lucy has learned a lot so far: how to create a webpage, how to ask for donations — “and how good it feels to help others.” When she thinks about the children who will receive the books, she says “my heart is filled with joy.”
To make the project even more personal, she’s contributed many of her own beloved childhood books.
“I clearly remember being read to as a small child, and participating in book clubs,” Lucy says. “I would do anything to make sure everyone around the world has the opportunity to read as much as they like.”
She has done plenty already. Now it’s our turn to help.
The ship date is September 1. That’s less than a month away. Lucy’s made it easy to contribute.
(Ready to help? You can drop books off at 35 Harbor Road, Westport or 425 East 58th Street, New York City. For a pickup in Fairfield County or Manhattan, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate funds online, click here.)