Written by:Monica Gonzales
12/7/2012 9:20 AM 

When Girl Scout Junior Monica Orozco was in first grade and a Daisy, she gave her class a present, a book she and her family created while on vacation in Washington D.C. Monica, who is an avid reader, wanted to share a piece of her travels with her friends in book form.

Fast forward a year later, Monica heard something on the radio while driving in the car with her mother. A National Public Radio segment noted that a large percentage of children don’t personally own a book, or have books at home. Monica, who can fill a library with the books she owns, was shocked and knew she could help make a difference.

Monica decided that for Christmas, she would give every child in her class a book. Using her allowance money, Monica set a budget of $50 and went shopping at bargain bookstores with her mother. That holiday season, every child in Monica’s class received three age-appropriate books. Monica’s mother said that by giving her classmates those books, something clicked, "Monica has always had a sharing spirit, always giving to others. She has a natural desire to give and share and she loves reading…in her world, this is what she does."

Monica’s giving spirit didn’t end there.

In third-grade she wanted to expand the giving to not only her class, but to the two other third-grade classes as well. Monica’s school is a Title I school, which means at least 40 percent of the children in the school attendance area are from low-income families, and Monica wanted to make sure every classmate received a gift. Her goal was to gather 372 books from her own personal collection and from purchasing books with her allowance. But with courage and confidence, Monica decided to launch a letter-writing campaign to bookstores and her favorite authors asking for donations. She also decided to hold two reading events in the community that accepted cash or gently used books as entrance fee.

With boxes of books showing up on her doorstep, Monica’s total book count reached 2,350!

With such tremendous success, Monica had enough books for each child in the entire school. Every student, Kindergarten to fifth-grade, was gifted three books during the holiday season.

Monica is continuing the Gift of Reading Book Drive in her fourth-grade year and even enlisted help from her friends and two of her Girl Scout troop members. As of early December, their total was 2,425 books.

Monica plans to continue the Gift of Reading Book Drive in her fifth-grade, and final, year at her school. For information on how you can help Monica in her cause, visit the Gift of Reading website.

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