Kidpreneurs Chase Hartman (11) and his best friend Vance Tomasi (12) have collected over 42,000 books and donated almost 40,000 books to more than 74 elementary schools, hospitals, libraries and other charities in 29 different states the past 15 months.
“Books help inspire kids to do great things, and great things help the world,” said Vance Tomasi. It’s this selfless approach to giving that is the driving force behind this dynamic duo.
While many kids think of summer vacation as play time, fifth-grade friends Chase Hartman and Vance Tomasi hatched an entrepreneurial venture over the summer that is serving their community and spreading their love of reading. After learning that some children in their community didn’t own their own books, they wanted to do something about it. At the same time, they realized people and businesses dispose of a vast number of new and used books every day. They set out to solve both problems simultaneously: get gently used books into the hands of those in need while encouraging reuse and reducing landfill waste. read.repeat. was born.
The boys recruited classmates, members of their Cub Scout Pack and their 4 little brothers to help with the task of collecting and sorting thousands of books into age-appropriate categories. They have built a website, set up distribution locations and make deliveries with the help of their moms. Their most impactful deliveries have been to three local Title 1 Schools in their area where they donated a total of 12,000 books. Understanding that kids who own books do better in school and citing a report that only 1 in 300 kids in struggling areas own their own books, Chase and Vance are on a mission to donate books to all 90 Title 1 Schools in their county.
“We get so excited when students tell us they can’t wait to pick out a book of their own so they can read it, hold it and love it. The kids say they can’t believe they get to keep the books! They can’t stop thanking us!” said Chase.
Another location that has benefitted from their project is the local VA Hospital. read.repeat. has donated over 3000 books directly to the James Haley Veteran’s Hospital and received a guided tour, met servicemen and women, and learned that without their help the patients may not receive books as they get very few visitors and there’s not a book store onsite. They are scheduled to do monthly deliveries and enjoy knowing they are making a difference in the lives of those who served our country.
“We spoke to several men who served our country and lost their ability to walk due to spinal injuries in battle. They thanked us for our service and we thanked them for theirs! One man even said he started his military career as a Cub Scout like us!” said Chase.
Chase and Vance have been recognized by Kids Are Heroes and Peace Fund Radio’s Heroes of The Week. Their story was highlighted by NBC’s Education Nation’s Parent Tool Kit. They’ve participated in and have been highlighted by the GenerationOn’s #RulesofKindness Campaign and #JoyMakerChallenge, #NBC’s #GoalToBeGreater Challenge and #MakeADifferenceDay. They’ve appeared on the local Fox13 Channel twice as well as BayNews9 and CBS10. They’ve also addressed their student body of 1000 kids on the importance of “kindness”, encouraging each one to develop their own Rules of Kindness.
The boys won the EPA's President's Environmental Youth Award representing Region 4 in the elementary division. Chase recently won the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award for the Middle School Division in Florida and represented his state at the national event in May. Both boys have also been named finalists for the Charlotte Bacon Acts of Kindness Award presented by Newtown Kindness, a national award recognizing kind acts of volunteerism.
Chase and Vance set a goal to donate over 20,000 books by February 2017 and achieved the goal on New Year’s Eve 2016. They now have set new goals and have big plans for the upcoming year. They know they can #ShareABook, #SaveAForest and #ChangeALife all through their love of reading and generosity. More information is available at www.readrepeat.org. Follow them @readrepeatorg and on Facebook at readrepeat.