By Pam Teel
Tasha Toth and her husband, Kevin, both of Roosevelt, to date, have collected and donated over 18,000 children’s books to lower income families, school districts, and other organizations in need of books across the state of New Jersey and abroad.
As a child, Tasha had always loved reading a new book and was fascinated by how each book was a different world and story to her. Books were magical to her. She always felt that every child should have a book to explore. When she grew older, she and her father had made a plan to start a project that would help children who were less fortunate have access to books to read at all times.
Sadly, in 2011 her father passed away before they could put their plan into action. Three years later, while still living in Flemington, Tasha wanted to honor her father by going ahead with the project that they had planned together. She posted on Facebook groups pitching the idea of collecting children’s books from the area and giving them to local teachers who needed them for their classrooms. The response from the community was incredible, and thus, The Book Smart Project (formerly known as The Taleeny Weeny Reading Project) was born. The first six months of putting their plan into action produced thousands of books that went out to teachers across the state.
Over the years, Tasha and Kevin have collected all kinds of children’s books from families in New Jersey that no longer had a need for the books, and in turn, the Toth’s donated these books to hun- dreds of teachers all around the state, mostly in low-income areas. Some of the places they donated to were Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington (for their pediatric offices), Camp Bernie, Home- Front in Trenton, Community Health Action in Staten Island, and DYFS.
They have also partnered with a couple of other organizations with the intentions of spreading the gift of literacy to children all around the globe. They partnered with ‘Literacy Movement 4 More’ to get books to those in need in India and overseas, and with ‘Empower and Help’ a Manalapan based nonprofit organization focused on child literacy. They have also sent books to Caribbean countries that have been affected by natural disasters. Through their partnership with Empower and Help, they have also donated books that have gone to Bangladesh and to refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Tasha, who is fluent in Arabic, has also helped translate handmade greeting cards to Arabic to send to the children of Syria who are in hospitals needing some moral uplifting.
“We are so proud of all the progress we have made over the years and look forward to doing more and getting more books in the hands of children to help them explore and experience the great ad- ventures of reading,” stated Ms. Toth. “We aspire to get books in the hands of ALL kids to ensure every child has the opportunity to be Book Smart.”
Here’s how you can help: If you would like to donate children’s books for children here in your own town and state, you can drop off children’s books only at Vesuvio’s Family Restaurant at 221 Millstone Road, here in Millstone Township. There will be a special marked box inside for drop off. The Costaglia family is always happy to help out their community!
Attention Scout masters- This would be a great opportunity for your troop to earn a badge. Contact Tasha and Kevin and start a collection of books on your own with your friends and neighbors.
Teachers in Millstone and nearby townships, if you are in need of more books for the children to read, visit the website or email Tasha at: thebooksmart- firstname.lastname@example.org /website at: http://www.thebooksmartproject.com/about-us/ (teachers, schools, hospitals, other organizations, you will find a request books page on here)
“You can find magic wherever you look.
Sit back and relax-
All you need is a book!”
– Dr. Suess