SPARTA, NJ – Just inside the doors of the Media Center at Sparta High School are a number of cardboard boxes placed there by Sylvia Sochacki.  She has been collecting books in those boxes to be donated to Tilly’s Kids. 

Sochacki brought the effort to the school “in the hopes of getting my classmates to join the effort.”  She has collected more than 200 books for the organization run by Pastor Tilly in Newark.  Pastor Tilly helps to guide inner city children of Newark and Irvington onto a healthy path and away from the poisonous atmosphere they experience on a daily basis,” Sochacki said.

She has also been collecting books at her church Our Lady of the Lake. 

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The efforts began over the summer and she is accepting books suitable for children and young adults.  Anyone in the community is welcome to add to her collection. 

“I have always had an incredible love for reading and writing,” Sochacki said.  “Growing up, the characters in my books were my best friends and they inspired me to be extra-ordinary.  In these books, I could go an adventure even though in real life I’d be too anxious.”

The high school junior is also interested in writing and listening to music and ballroom dancing.  “I’ve been training with my dance partner for three years now in Wallington.”  She acknowledges her mother’s support having to drive her twice a week. 

Additionally, Sochacki and her brother spend their weekends at Polish school as they have done from the age of three.  She explains it is “a four-hour school day devoted to Polish literature, grammar, culture, history and geography.”  Both of her parents are Polish immigrants and “found this to be vital.”

Now in high school, Polish school takes her time on Friday nights.

“The objective of the book drive is to provide youth with access to literature and to celebrate reading,” said Sochacki.  “Every child deserves to read and not only to maintain a suitable education but also to experience the joy that books have to offer.  I’s always reassuring to know that when the real world becomes too much, fictional ones always have their borders open.  Children, and adults, should have that option. “

“Growing up I had the advantage of parents with enough resources to buy me books and a one of the best public libraries in the state,” Sochacki said. “I want to provide children with less advantage the same resources so that they too can experience the joy and education I did through reading. Without my favorite books I wouldn't be the person I am today. Each character has impacted me and influence me to be better, be smarter, be kinder or be more adventurous. All children deserve the plentiful resources of reading material, fictional or academic.”

Books can be brought to the school  “I’m excited to see how many more we can collect.”