Boy Scouts generally do pretty awesome things, but one California Boy Scout is setting the bar pretty high for his friends in the charity department. Ryan Traynor, 16, founded the Youth Literacy Council to promote early literacy and encourage community volunteering. The Council, which comprises nine students from seven Redwood, California-area schools, headed up public awareness projects and book drives that, in just six months, collected 25,000 books from donations made by community members. The Youth Literacy Council donated the 25,000 books it gathered to 27 charities, schools, and literacy programs — for which Traynor has "received pages and pages of handwritten thank you notes" from the children who received them.
Traynor is a pretty cool kid: He first caught the volunteer bug at age 11, when he began reading to schoolchildren for a merit badge. Today, he still reads to children, but also teaches free financial literacy and STEM classes, hosts game nights, and organizes board game and book donation drives for local charities. (When does he have time to, like, do homework?) The fact that the Redwood area is a book desert, where most children do not have access to books in their homes, makes Traynor's work all the more important.
If this has inspired you to get your charity on, you're in luck. Because encouraging others to volunteer in their communities is a large part of Traynor's mission, he has created a free Book Drive Toolkit for Literacy that anyone can use as a guide to generating book donations in their area. The Toolkit comes complete with sample flyers, email campaigns, and press releases. Traynor says he wants others to understand that "it really only takes one person" to make a difference in a community.
According to the Redwood City Public Library, Traynor is slated to appear on the July 23 episode of Good Morning America, which I'll totally be watching. Hopefully, the publicity he's receiving will draw more attention to his cause, and will add more power and force to the wave of early literacy programs sweeping the U.S. this summer.
Keep up the good work, Ryan.