Emma Harrop with donations

Emma Harrop, senior at North Smithfield High School, sits with just a few of the dozens of boxes of books she received for her senior project book drive. The donations will be given to Books Are Wings to be redistributed to children with barriers to access.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – At a whopping 5,000 titles and still counting, Emma Harrop says she’s still amazed at how many books her senior project book drive received in the span of just three weeks.

For her senior project, North Smithfield High School’s Harrop collaborated with the Pawtucket-based organization Books Are Wings. The goal of the organization is to collect and redistribute books to children who may have barriers to access for a variety of reasons, whether financial or being geographically distant from a library.

Over the course of the year, Harrop has volunteered with Books Are Wings to table book parties, which are events where children can come up and pick out books to take home, totally free of charge. The project culminated with her book drive.

The book drive ran from the middle of February into the beginning of March. Harrop had placed collection boxes at all of the North Smithfield public schools and North Smithfield, but North Smithfield Elementary School worked to bring in more books than Harrop could have imagined.

Jennifer Daigneault, principal of NSES, organized a ‘Book Blitz’ on March 2, encouraging classrooms to compete to see who could bring in the most books that day. On that day alone, according to Harrop, over 5,000 books were brought in by students. Mrs. Kraus’ third-graders won the Blitz by donating 799 titles.

Harrop spent this entire past weekend counting with some friends, she said. Books are currently being stored in her parent’s basement, living room, and a few different garages between her friends and family.

Even though they worked diligently this weekend, there are still approximately 20 boxes to be counted, Harrop said, which could push the final book total over 7,000.

The question of how she’s going to hand off all the books to Books Are Wings is an ongoing conversation: “One of my mentors, Alison, and two other Books Are Wings employees are going to stop by my house with the big Books Are Wings van, but considering the amount of donations, they’ll either have to come back a second time or I’ll have to rope in my family to help me bring the rest of the books to Pawtucket,” Harrop said.

Harrop added that once people started seeing how many books she was receiving, they asked if she had a goal or limit. She would say no with disbelief, she told The Breeze, because she was definitely not expecting such an outpouring of community support.

“There are so, so many people I want to thank for helping me make this project a success,” Harrop told The Breeze. “First, I’d like to thank my parents for letting me use our downstairs as a storage area for a while, and for endlessly supporting me throughout this whole project. Second, I want to thank my friends who chose to spend some of their time helping me transport and count books; it was certainly an endeavor I could not do alone. Third, I want my community to know how grateful I am for all their contributions to my project, either through donating or through spreading the word. Your kindness helped to make my project a huge success.”

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