Helping students learn to read is gratifying and getting tasty treats as a reward makes it all the sweeter.
Samantha Grayer, 15, of Great Falls is a rising Langley High School sophomore who last December founded “Berries for Books,” a non-profit that is holding a book drive this summer to bolster child literacy at a District of Columbia school.
The book drive began July 20 and runs through Friday, Aug. 12. Donated books will benefit students at Savoy Elementary School, which Grayer selected because of its 11-percent reading-proficiency rate – a figure recorded before the pandemic interrupted schooling. The District’s Ward 8, where the school is located, also has twice as much poverty and unemployment than the rest of the city, she said.
The idea for the non-profit germinated from a family celebration. Grayer last year made chocolate-covered strawberries for her father’s birthday (“They surprisingly turned out not too terrible,” she said) and last summer refined the treats’ appearance and began selling them to her friends.
“After a while, I realized I could actually put it to good use,” she said of her treat-making. “Growing up, my parents have always taught me that giving back to the community is such an important thing.”
Grayer, the organization’s president and board chairman, started the non-profit in December 2021 at age 14. She even got her parents into the act: Laurence Grayer is the non-profit’s vice president and Jacquelyn Grayer its secretary.