Cary News: Community

Simple bookshelves house treasures

When the Read and Feed RV pulls up in a neighborhood, kids know they’re going to get a meal, a helping hand with their reading skills from the nonprofit’s volunteers, and some books to call their own.

But they don’t always have a place to put their books once they get home. When Read and Feed’s local leaders pointed out that need, Cary teenager Arjun Bhatt got to work on a project to make bookshelves for some of Read and Feed’s young clients.

Over the course of one very long day, Arjun and some other volunteers made 16 small bookcases that would give cherished books a safe and handy place for storage.

“When you actually give them the bookshelves, they feel so happy because these kids, honestly, it may be their only piece of furniture the kids actually can call their own,” Arjun said. “It feels really nice to be a part of giving them something like that.”

Arjun, who just completed eighth grade at Davis Drive Middle School, got involved with Read and Feed about a year and a half ago, initially to fulfill a volunteering requirement that goes along with his membership with the Cary Teen Council.

“Read and Feed seemed like a cool idea, so I went there one day,” he said. “It was contagious and I started coming back there again and again.”

Now he volunteers about once a week, working with groups of two to three elementary-aged students to bring their reading skills up to speed and instill a love for books. His work with the organization, particularly in making the bookshelves, has been steered by Jay Frantz, an adult volunteer who also happens to be a former Eagle Scout. That last part comes in handy, since Arjun is working toward his Eagle rank, with the bookshelf project a central part of his effort. But he’s not just in it for the volunteer hours, or the Eagle Scout badge.

Arjun keeps showing up for volunteer shifts for two simple reasons, he said: “I really like the kids, and reading is fun.”

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