Alexander and Anderson Lambert of Laurel are giving more than 600 books to children in the island nation of St. Lucia, thanks to some help from their fellow Bond Mill Elementary School students.
“We saw that St. Lucia did not have much books [and we thought] we should donate some books that are in good condition,” said Alexander, 7, a second-grader at Bond Mill Elementary School in Laurel.
St. Lucia is a small, 238,000-square-mile island nation in the Caribbean with a population of approximately 174,000. The boys’ father, Miguel Lambert, was born in St. Lucia.
“We always try to tell them to give back to people who do not have as much as they do,” the boys’ mother, Ayana Lambert, said. “They love St. Lucia, their dad is from St. Lucia, they have family in St. Lucia, so they decided to do this.”
The boys visited their father’s home city of Laborie last year, and saw the empty bookshelves in the Laborie Primary School’s library.
“They don’t have many books, and they’ve mostly read all of the books, so they need new ones,” Alexander said. “It might just fill up one section, but that would still be pretty good.”
AAyana Lambert said the parents filed paperwork with the state of Maryland to form a nonprofit, Children Everywhere Enjoy Reading, or CHEER.
Alexander was named president and CEO of the nonprofit, and younger brother Anderson, 5, a kindergartner, was named vice president of operations, their mother said.
“We also wanted to instill in them that you can run a business, and you can be a leader,” Ayana Lambert said.
She said that she and her husband assisted, but Alexander and Anderson developed the book drive themselves and solicited books from their classmates.
Bond Mill Principal Justin Fitzgerald said Alexander approached him with the idea of doing a book drive for St. Lucia. The school sent out letters from Alexander and Anderson to parents, made announcements over the loudspeaker and included the book drive in the school’s newsletter.
“The response was incredible. Books began pouring in and they haven’t stopped,” Fitzgerald said. “Anytime you see someone with that kind of heart ... parents, students, staff, teachers just want to do everything in their power to help.”
As of Tuesday, 982 books were collected.
“The person that gives us the most books gets a souvenir from St. Lucia,” Alexander said.
The books are being mailed to St. Lucia this month, Miguel Lambert said, but will be personally delivered to the school’s library when the family makes a trip to St. Lucia and visits the children’s library next spring.
“I keep telling them, it doesn’t have to stop here. If you want to keep going, you have the company formed, you want to give to other places, other countries, other parts of the United States, you can do that,” Ayana Lambert said.