How one American teen donated 15,000 books to sick children
Meet Emily Bhatnagar, who responded to her father's cancer diagnosis by starting a book drive and collecting thousands of books for children with cancer
When 19-year-old Emily Bhatnagar from Maryland, USA, found out her father had stage four thyroid cancer, her response was a little different than you might expect. To honour her father, who she also describes as her best friend, she decided to start a book drive called For Love and Buttercup, collecting books for kids with cancer.
“It was very much an overnight idea,” she explains. “I posted a message on an app called Nextdoor asking my neighbours for used book donations. I was only expecting a few here and there, but the response was truly incredible and it was just the push I needed to co-exist with my grief rather than letting it consume me.
"Emily and her older brother spent a whole summer driving around town, loading boxes of books into their car"
“It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch my dad go through cancer and see him lose a little bit of himself each day, but the book drive allowed me to develop a newfound sense of purpose intertwined with an even greater sense of compassion to help others in any shape or form. I wanted to help kids. They’ve always held a soft spot in my heart.”
Using tips she earns from working at her parents’ bread shop, Emily has bought many books out of her own pocket. In addition, she receives donations through her Amazon wishlist, which can be found in the bio of the book drive’s Instagram account, @forloveandbuttercup.
Emily and her older brother spent a whole summer driving around town, loading boxes of books into their car. “It was such a privilege knowing people have carried these books all their lives through generations, and they wanted to gift it to my cause.”
The project has seen huge success, with For Love and Buttercup donating over 15,000 books and being recognised by The Washington Post, Forbes, The President’s Volunteer Service Award and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.
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