Lenape High School community service club collecting books to honor student

Lenape High School’s community service club is running the Each Bring One Book Drive, a project done in honor of senior Eric “Ebo” Eberling, who passed away from cancer on Dec. 25.

After Eberling died over winter break, freshman Chase Keller brainstormed some ideas for how the school could honor him.

“After hearing about his passing, I was talking to my mom and we were thinking about something we could possibly do for him,” Keller said.

Keller, a member of Lenape’s community service club, was inspired when a representative from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia came in to talk to the club. After hearing about its Reach Out and Read program, Keller came up with the idea to collect books.

“It gives books to kids when they come in,” Keller said about the program. “Eric Ebo was treated at CHOP, so I was thinking if we could somehow link this together, that’d be really cool.”

Reach Out and Read is a non-profit organization that collects books for children up to 5 years old. The books are placed in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices and help encourage children to read aloud to their parents. CHOP is the Philadelphia-area affiliate for Reach Out and Read.

Keller came up with the Each Bring One title, using Ebo’s initials. The group then set out on organizing the fundraiser. The club wanted to do the project in mid-February to coincide with Valentine’s Day, leaving it with only two weeks to get everything set up.

Lenape’s community service club typically does one project per month. However, the club wanted to make this book drive bigger than any ordinary fundraiser. To do this, the club looked to collect books outside the school community.

“We contacted the PTOs, administration and staff at all of the Mt. Laurel elementary and middle schools,” said Pam Busarello, the club’s faculty advisor. “Club members have been dropping off collection baskets there.”

To promote the book drive within the high school, the club created signs promoting the book drive and hung them throughout the hallways.

In addition, bookplates were created for placement in each book donated.

“Each child will know where this book came from and will realize its importance,” Busarello said.

On Feb. 5, the first day of the drive, members from the club appeared on the Lenape morning TV show to promote the drive. A thermometer was erected to keep track of how many books were donated. The club received a few donations before the drive officially started.

The goal is to collect 2,400 books. Eberling wore the number 24 when he played ice hockey.

“We foresee 2,400 being a minimum,” Busarello said. “We expect to collect a lot more books.”

The book drive is just one of a number of events Lenape has held for Eberling this school year, but this is the first one since his passing. Even after his death, many students feel he remains a part of the school community.

“Our community and our school in particular did a lot for him up to unfortunately his passing,” Busarello said. “A lot of times, we stop there and don’t think about how we continue to give back and help. That’s what’s so beautiful about Chase’s project.”

Anyone from the community is encouraged to participate in this book drive. Bring a new or gently used book to Lenape High School or any of the Mt. Laurel schools to donate.