MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Gabrielle Klausner, a rising senior at Scotch-Plains Fanwood High School, organized a book drive and collected over 200 new books to donate to Children's Specialized Hospital in Mountainside to start a new library in the long term care unit.
Klausner visits the long term care unit, which is home to 46 children, to read stories with the children followed by a craft or game. She is passionate about reading and enjoys sharing her love for stories with others. "I am excited about this opportunity to make a positive impact through books. I love spending time with the kids and was feeling inspired to make a difference in my community by sharing my passion with others," she said.
She collected donations through word of mouth with family and friends. Additionally, Klausner reached out to publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and they generously donated new books.
“We are so fortunate to have volunteers like Gabrielle who go above and beyond for our patients and families," said Megan Granozio, Director of Marketing and Public Relations of Children's Specialized Hospital. "The dedication she has displayed to the children we serve is inspiring and we’re grateful for all she is doing to ensure our patients reach their full potential.”
Klausner started a club at Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS called Beyond The Book Club, where they visit the YMCA after-school programs and read books to the students. "I used the basis for my Club as inspiration to start up this new program," said Klausner. "Each week, we pick out some type of theme, for instance 'Under the Sea,' and then read a few stories that go along with it. Then after we do a craft or activity that relates to the book."
"It has been incredible seeing my ideas come to fruition and to be able to share something that I am so passionate about with others," said Klausner. "I love being able to make meaningful connections with the kids, and getting to interact with them and see them smile. I love having the interactions with the kids and seeing their eyes light up or a smile during our reading sessions."
As a rising senior and college around the corner, Klausner is interested in pursuing a career in Psychology or Occupational Therapy, related to children. "I have always enjoyed working with people and getting to form real relationships. I think Psychology or Occupational Therapy would give me the chance to connect and help a lot of people," she said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for monetary donations for the project. The money will go towards new book selections or craft supplies. "We are looking for elementary level (K-2) picture books with great illustrations," said Klausner.