Benjamin Leiner loves reading. Now, he’s sharing that love with other children by donating 1,000 books he collected over three weeks.
Inspired by an initiative he saw in Boston, the Kirkland teen started the donation project ahead of his 13th birthday and bar mitzvah.
“I feel really proud and happy the whole community could come together in such a way that everyone wants to give books,” Leiner said.
Some books he collected were of such good quality, they looked like they were practically new.
“I read a couple of them, but I did not keep any because I want to give them all,” he said. “There were some [of] really good quality, in good condition, and it’s going to help a lot of people. “
He will be donating all 1,000 children’s books he collected across the West Island to local hospitals and shelters. More than 200 books are going to the Montreal Children’s Library.
Pinfang Lu, interim head librarian at the Montreal Children’s Library, says she was surprised to receive an email from someone who wanted to donate so many books, especially considering Leiner’s age.
“I was very amazed and I felt a bit honored that Benjamin had chosen our library to donate the books to for his project, and I admire him a lot,” she said.
Vivian Bejerman, Leiner’s mother, said her son took charge of the project.
“He called organizations such as this library to see if there was a need and when there was, he would email and set up appointments,” she said. “My job was just driving.”
Within a weekend after posting about the project on Facebook, Leiner received 500 books.
Bejerman, her daughter and Leiner collected, sorted and delivered donations, which turned into a bonding experience.
“It was fun when he learned how to use Google Sheets to classify English and French books or make a list of the organizations and decide what would go where,” Bejerman said. “It was a lesson in Excel and Sheets, which I like to work in, too, so it was fun to work on that together. “
Leiner and his family have already delivered books to Sainte-Justine Hospital and Chai Lifeline. Deliveries to the Salvation Army and Nova Thrift shop will be sold with proceeds going toward helping people pay hospital expenses.
“Books will go directly to children who are hospitalized, who do schooling there or who are bored,” Bejerman said. “The social worker will match the book with the kids’ interests. We got books for all ages – from little toddler baby books to teenagers – so hopefully some kids will benefit. “
For Leiner, the goal was not only to donate books, but also to inspire other people to take on a similar project.
“I hope that more people donate to this library and libraries all over Montreal,” he said.
“I hope the books will go a long way.”