In 2016 I began volunteering at a local children's hospital in the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area. During my time there I noticed a very important aspect of the hospital was missing...an opportunity to have access to books.
After visiting the library on multiple occasions, I noticed an extreme shortage of books for both children and teens. This shortage of books caused me to reach out to the staff, and I discovered that the library was almost entirely donation based. Seeing the shortage of books made it evident to me that not enough people had been donating. Being an avid reader myself, I saw this as nothing more than a problem that could be solved.
My overall goal was to start a charity that helped raise funds to assist in putting books on the shelves of children's hospitals, as well as other organizations throughout my community. The reward of seeing the joy on a child's face when they open a new book is a heartwarming experience.
It was at that point I decided to create a GoFundMe account. I will admit that fundraising was an entirely new concept for me, although I personally felt that reaching out to anyone willing to listen was such a tremendous way to begin.
With the help of friends and family, my GoFundMe account raised enough money to provide books to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, as well as Shriners Children's Hospital in Tampa. I still wanted to do more.
After some research and planning I was able to create Books United, Inc., my official non-profit charity. To date we have held a successful book drive for The Children's Home Network, and are in the process of helping other organizations throughout the community. It is our hope we will continue to grow and fulfill our mission.