Alexis Shenkiryk is a 16-year-old student at Pacific Ridge School in San Diego. She started the Pages and Pieces project this past March. While doing spring cleaning at the start of the Covid 19 isolation period, she realized that she had a lot of books. She also knew that there were kids who were learning at home and that some of them had fewer resources than others.
“I think a lot of schools right now are transferring to Zoom meetings and online schooling. I also know a lot of public schools are not necessarily funded well, so these kids might not have access to books like I do.” So, with the support of her mother, Alexis launched a book drive and puzzle drive for kids in need. (www.pagesandpiecesbookdrive.com)
Alexis got the word out about Pages and Pieces by writing a press release that she shared with newspapers in the San Diego area. Her dance studio helped to spread the word about the project. She called her friends and asked for book and puzzle donations. “I think it is a very easy process. Whoever has books can do it.”
Alexis found that people are excited and grateful to participate in the book and puzzle drive. She is partnering with women’s and children’s shelters, and other nonprofit groups. She hopes that these books will entertain and uplift the sprits of young people who receive these resources.
Alexis has been a reader her whole life. Early on, her mother encouraged her and her siblings to get into books. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle written by Barbara Kingsolver are her two latest reads.
She loves reading. “When I read a book, it’s like an escape from everything. You are not thinking of the whole pandemic thing that is going on; you are just focused on the plot. I think it’s good to give your mind a break from everything. Just relax. It’s almost a form of relaxation, a way to wind down after a long day.”
Alexis also enjoys writing. She writes for the school magazine, Global Vantage. Students interview people from all over the world on a selected monthly theme. The most recent theme was “innovation”. For this, Alexis interviewed a photographer from Paris. Alexis said that she would like to be a fashion journalist one day.
She offered advice to other kids who might want to start a project that gives back to the community. She shared that it is important to be organized and to create a spreadsheet to keep track of important information needed. She added that, if people do not answer emails, not to worry about it. Just move on and try to connect with the next organization or group.
She encouraged people to participate in the Pages and Pieces project by donating new or gently used books for children, ages 3 to 15. The book and puzzle drive will continue through this summer. Learn more at this website: (www.pagesandpiecesbookdrive.com)