By Ukee Washington

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — A South Jersey man made it his mission to collect books for classrooms. He gave away a quarter-million of them before the pandemic.       

But he hasn’t stopped!

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We met Larry Abrams in February 2020, hard at work in Cherry Hill. 

Larry Abrams -Brotherly Love: South Jersey Man Continuing Mission Of Collecting Books For Classrooms Despite Pandemic

Piling up tens of thousands of books in this storage unit, and they went out as fast as they came in.

Abrams, a Lindenwold high school English teacher, founded BookSmiles about five years ago.

For a $10 donation, teachers could take home free used books all year and irrigate what Abrams called “book deserts” — schools and homes without books.

“We’d have dozens of teachers come in every week to load up on as many books as they could. With COVID, that pretty much slowed down to a trickle,” Abrams said.

But he is still working on getting books to those who need them and he’s getting the help of Janet Edelstein, a BookSmiles board member and volunteer in Gladwyne.

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“The country can’t survive without everybody contributing, and I think Larry said it best one day when he said literacy shouldn’t depend on your zip code,” Edelstein said.

She collected 12,000 books, 4,000 from Merion Elementary School alone. Abrams had to rent a U-Haul to collect them all!

He also said teachers can still pick up books, even if not in a classroom.

“Kids who need books the most are the ones who are in full remote,” Abrams said.

He even donated 6,000 to the Food Bank of South Jersey.

Who knows what one book can inspire.

“In BookSmiles, we’re creating the next generation of Nobel Prize winners,” Abrams said.

In the next year or two, Abrams is looking for an even bigger storage space, and more investors to help pay for costs.

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Click here, for more information about BookSmiles.

Ukee Washington