The Book Smart Project is an Empower and Help Service.
The Book Smart Project was founded in 2013 by Empower and Help board member Tasha Toth. She founded it in honor of her late father, Jack Hawash, who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2011. Throughout her time with her father, Tasha remembers her father instilling the love of charity and helping others. So, she founded The Book Smart Project. Today, Tasha runs the project with her husband, Kevin Toth. Together they have donated over 20,000 books to schools across the tri-state area and internationally.
The Book Smart Project aims to put books in the hands of all children because literacy and education are fundamental human rights. We appreciate the financial burden teachers face when filling their classrooms with books for the school year. So, we started The Book Smart Project as a way to help alleviate the costs and support teachers and classrooms. We collect gently used children’s books and donate them to low-income school districts across New Jersey and collaborate with other organizations to donate books internationally where there is a need. To request or donate books, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thebooksmartproject.com to learn more. Our partnership with Empower and Help will ensure our service to at-risk communities across the globe by empowering them through literacy.
How it works:
When requesting books, it is crucial to be as specific as possible to ensure we provide you with books that best suit your needs. When sharing what grade you teach, also please let us know what level books you need and how many students you have in your class. If you want specific titles, please share those with us, and we will try our best to find those for you. Sharing which school you teach in helps us and our donor base know where the books are going. We ask what town you are located in so that we can figure out the best way to get the books to you, whether by dropping them off directly to you, you picking them up from us, or meeting halfway in a convenient location.
When interested in donating books, please ensure the books are gently used or better: no rips, mold, offensive smells (smoke), or writing in them. We sift through all donations to ensure that requestees are getting the best quality books. We believe every child has a right to a lovely book in good condition and that simply because they are from low-income communities does not mean they do not deserve wonderful books. If you visit us at www.thebooksmartproject.com, you can request books and share what condition the books are, their age range, and your zip code. This will help us determine the best way to get the books from you, whether picking them up from you or directing you to our drop-off site in Manalapan, NJ.
Tasha and Kevin Toth at Ross Street School #11, Woodbridge, NJ, for a Valentine’s Day book donation event.
School visits started in 2019 to have a more direct impact on the lives of children across New Jersey. Before the pandemic, we visited nine schools across New Jersey and Philadelphia. Teachers or administrators can request a school visit by telling us if they need books for a specific grade or the entire school by specifying how many students they have. We bring our books to the school, set up a table, give a little introduction about us and our project, and then the kids choose a book from the table that they would like to take home. Each student gets one book to take home to add to their home library or start their home library. This is one of our favorite things because we can interact with the kids, learn what titles are popular, and help them choose a new book. We always tell the kids, “you never know, this may be your next favorite book!”