- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - For the third year in a row, Chelsea Fitzgerald made it her goal to collect as many books as possible for needy children. The 10-year-old, soon to be a fifth-grader at Yalesville School, collected more than 1,000 books for charity last year. This year she collected more than 3,200 for Read to Grow, a nonprofit organization in Branford.

“It feels nice because I have so many books that I’ve gotten, but a lot of other kids don’t have as many as I do, so it’s nice to hear at least they get a few,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea’s mother, Gina Fitzgerald, said the family’s living room has been inundated with dozens of boxes of books ready for donation, making it hard to walk around.

“They are stacked pretty high,” Gina Fitzgerald said. “I really didn’t anticipate her getting so many books so quickly.”

Community members learned of the book drive by word of mouth and through social media. Chelsea also held a bake sale July 25, raising $127 to buy an additional 180 books.

Yalesville School Principal Deborah Dayo said Chelsea came into her office during the school year asking if the school could help with the book drive. The elementary school’s students collected about 1,200 books as a result.

Dayo said she couldn’t be prouder of Chelsea.

“She’s awesome,” Dayo said. “She’s that kid that isn’t going to stop when she reaches her goal, she’s going to go above and beyond and keep working because in her heart she’s helping other kids.”

Read to Grow’s executive director, Kyn Tolson, said Chelsea was recognized at the organization’s 15th anniversary ceremony, along with 15 other honorees that included state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, and Commissioner Myra Jones-Taylor of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.

She commended Chelsea on her continued commitment to helping the organization.

“Easily about 1,000 children will benefit from this single book drive,” Tolson said. “She’s amazing … We’re very thankful for her and without her and others like her we wouldn’t be in business.”

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Information from: Record-Journal, http://www.record-journal.com

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