While most teenagers are spending their summers doing whatever it is teenagers do these days, Julia Foos is spending her summer in her basement — for a really, really great cause.
Foos has collected and donated 25,000 books to children in need across Greater Cleveland over the last three years.
Her family’s basement is where those thousands of books are collected, sorted and boxed.
A true bookworm, Foos was spurred into action at just 14 years old when she read an article about the lack of access many children in Cleveland have to books. The city has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country. Studies show that 61 percent of low-income children do not have any books in their homes.
“That really upset me because I’ve always loved to read,” Foos said. “I was like, ‘I really think I should do something. I have the ability to do something.”
Foos' original goal was to collect just 250 books, but she surpassed that so quickly that she wanted to continue sharing her love of books with others.
The new and gently-used books she collects are donated by schools, families, and businesses that Foos personally reaches out to.
"They’re going to kids in lower-income families who maybe aren’t able to get to a library, or who don’t have access to books at home," Foos said. "I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t have that chance."
“I think caring about something is one thing, but actually taking action to try to make a difference is on a different level, and we’re so proud of her,” Julia's mother Heather Foos said.
If you’re interested in donating books, you can find more information on Julia’s Facebook page, “Books Offer Opportunities for Kids.”
You can also find more information about the United Way initiative by clicking here.