Few things make me happier than seeing a young agent of kindness at work. It gives me great confidence that kindness has a future, even in the face of troubling times.
Blake Ansari is only eight years old, but he’s already begun working to make the lives of homeless children better by making books available to them. His “Blake Mini Library” initiative, begun in 2014 when he was just six, donates rainbow colored libraries and books to children in foster care homes and runaway and homeless shelters.
Why books? Blake knows that being an excellent reader is required to graduate from college and get a good job in order to save money to buy a home. Blake states “reading is important for science, math, technology, lyrics, writing, and drama. But, you cannot become an excellent reader if you don’t have books to read at bedtime and breakfast. I want every child to have a book to read at night in bed and in the morning for breakfast.”
This year, as he has done for now his third year of Valentine’s Days, Blake led the effort to inspire and collect book donations from a broad variety of donors on Valentine’s Day. Over 10,000 books along with a four-foot tall rainbow-colored “Blake Mini Library” were made available to homeless children New York, California and Brazil. Each child from birth to age 21 selects five books to start a personal library.
A sticker, created by Blake, is placed in each of the books.
Blake Mini Library
You Will Go To College!
Blake’s efforts and impact have grown year over year. At the age of six, he became the United States’s “youngest philanthropist.” Blake received the “Kohl’s Cares Regional Philanthropist Award” from Kohl’s Department Stores for his 2014 Valentine’s Day gift of over 600 books to The PATH Center, located in The Bronx New York. His philanthropy was featured in Ellen DeGeneres Good News Blog, The Atlantic, Positive Community Magazine, The Amsterdam News and countless social media sites. In 2015, Positive Community celebrated Blake’s philanthropy by featuring his work on the cover of their Commemorative 150th Anniversary Emancipation Proclamation Calendar.
His mother, Dr. Starita Boyce Ansari, says Blake has created a global youth philanthropy movement that sends the message of love, education and empowerment to homeless children around the world. “My parents, husband and I are committed to supporting this movement.”
In December 2014, Blake sent a letter to President Obama asking the President to help him ensure that every homeless child from Hawaii to Maine is able to read, so they too can attend college. In his missive, Blake equates homeless families search for permanent housing to The Trail of Tears. He hopes to hear from President Obama or First Lady Michele Obama. Blake Mini Library has requests across America and from other nations.
Or as Blake himself puts it, “when you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self.” I can’t think of a better way to describe why kindness matters.