When Mackenzie Bearup was ten years old, she hurt her knee while she was “rocking out” to American Idol. When the pain didn’t go away like normal, she learned that she had a disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). This disease caused her knee to keep hurting, long past the time it should have healed, and no medicine or treatments could help, except one—books!
Mackenzie found out that reading books helped her forget about her pain, and she decided to help other kids, too. When she was thirteen, she started gathering books for a children’s center in her town. She asked friends and neighbors to donate their old children’s books to her, and soon she had over 10,000 books, enough to fill the whole library!
Mackenzie realized that lots more kids could benefit from having books, especially kids in homeless shelters. In 2009, when she was 16, she founded Sheltering Books, Inc. Sheltering Books is a non-profit charity that provides books to both children and adults in homeless shelters across the U.S.
Sheltering Books has donated books to shelters all across Georgia and in 24 other states. Besides sending books to shelters, they also send books to people serving overseas in the military. Mackenzie’s brother, Benjamin, is in charge of that part! Her other brother, Alex, focuses on sending books to kids in Atlanta, one of the biggest cities in Georgia.
Mackenzie’s books come from lots of different places. She used to go to garage sales and leave flyers asking people to donate any of the books that did not sell. As word about her charity spread, people around the country starting sending her their used books. She even got donations from authors and publishing companies! Now, Sheltering Books has delivered more than 360,000 books to people and shelters all across the U.S!
If you want to read more about Sheltering Books—or find a way to help out—click here!