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Hero Central: Teen collects books for Dover Elementary

4:54 PM, Aug 20, 2010   |    comments
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Lithia, Florida --  Dover Elementary has the largest migrant population of any school in Hillsborough County and a lot of the kids don't have access to books at home.

One Lithia teen heard about that and wanted to do something to help the kids obtain books.

"Books are so important to growing up and learning," said Mark Burgan, a student at Newsome High School.

Burgan wanted to complete a community project over the summer and, after talking with his mom, decided to start a book drive for the kids who attend Dover Elementary School.

"My mom works there. She volunteered there and she told me about how less fortunate the kids were and how, even in their homes, they had no books to read," he said.

Burgan didn't think it was fair that the kids in his neighborhood in Fish hawk had so many books that they weren't using and the kids in Dover had so little, so he started out on an ambitious drive to collect over a thousand books.

"When he set a goal to raise a thousand books, I said, 'Mark, that's pretty ambitious but go for it,'" said Lori Burgan, Mark's mother.

Mark hit the streets, enlisting the support of friends, churches and schools.

"I found some big groups that could donate lots of books. Bevis Elementary, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Grace United Methodist Church, and I also sent out emails to a lot of my mom's friends," he said.

He also set up a book drop bin at Bleu Salon and Spa and, when he was finished, Mark had collected thousands of books.

"This wonderful young man collected almost three thousand books for the children of our school," said Marie Caracciola, the principal at Dover Elementary School.

The books will help improve literacy rates at the school and at home.

"We like for them to have books in the home. We know that if they can practice reading, it can improve their reading. They also share with little brothers and sisters and read to them at home, which is something we encourage strongly with our students," Caracciola said.

Mark says he's excited that the kids will have access to the books.

"Now, they have books to read and that will help further their education and they will hopefully become better readers and learners," he said.

Mark's mom is proud of her son's successful completion of his community service project.

"I'm so proud of Mark because I think that he took something that was a great idea and, instead of letting it sit on the shelf, he actually implemented it," she said.

Mark and a group of his friends delivered the books to the school earlier this week.

If you would like to nominate someone to be a "Hero of the Week", please email me at: mbeal@wtsp.com

Melvin Beal, 10 News

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