Kindness Week: Over 5,000 books collected for Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey

WILLIAMSTOWN, NJ (WPVI) — A truck arrived at Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey, for a special pickup: more than 5,000 books collected by campers and staff to help children and teachers who need them.

“I mean, it was amazing,” said 9-year-old Washington Township camper Lena Dicastelnuovo.

“We all helped and brought books for the people,” said camper Ana Vogel from Voorhees.

Each summer, the camp chooses a reason for Kindness Week.

This year, the reason was a South Jersey nonprofit called BookSmiles.

A few years ago, Tall Pines collected around 3,000 books for BookSmiles. This year they broke that record.

“I brought books so more kids could read them,” said 7-year-old camper Blake Stell.

“The first day they got to 800. The second day they got to about 1,200 and then they just kept going,” said Andrew Yankowitz, owner and director of Tall Pines.

“On the very last day we actually had a kid running with the last book and the whole camp went wild. It was pretty cool,” said collaborator Brianna Butters.

In the end, nearly 5,200 books were collected, in addition to jars of coins for the nonprofit.

“The need is great. It’s overwhelming. They are needed in Philadelphia, Camden, Trenton and throughout New Jersey,” said Larry Abrams, Founder and CEO of BookSmiles.

Abrams is also an English teacher at Lindenwold High School and was a former employee of Tall Pines.

“Kids who grow up without books at home come into kindergarten at a huge disadvantage, and if they’re not on grade level in 4th grade, that’s a problem,” Abrams said.

Part of the message for these campers is that this book tour shouldn’t be a one-time effort. They can take the initiative in their own communities.

“It instills that charitable giving from a very young age,” Yankowitz said.

“We really want these Tall Pines kids to go back to their elementary schools, their middle schools and their high schools and have book collections right in their schools,” Abrams said.

“I’m so happy that children all over the world are getting books they need,” Dicastelnuovo said.

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