- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - When she first took on the task of maintaining the bookshelf at Community Harvest Food Bank, Katie Dorsey didn’t know if she would be able to keep it filled.

She needn’t have worried.

The 17-year-old has given away more than 11,000 books since she began Hope Books in March 2015 to get books to children who might not have access to them at home. Her efforts have expanded to include such organizations as the Early Childhood Alliance and the Urban League of Fort Wayne.

“It wasn’t really me that was doing it,” the Carroll High School senior said. “God showed up in so many ways to provide what I needed for that time.”

The organization’s namesake is Jeremiah 29:11, a Bible verse about giving people hope and a future, Dorsey said. She noted the verse is on cards she distributes when seeking donations.

Her inspiration to begin such a project stemmed from seeing children with their parents at Community Harvest, a place she and her mother regularly visit because they deliver groceries to homebound seniors, Dorsey said.

No activities were available for the children, who would look bored, Dorsey said, so she decided to fill that void.

The idea to start a bookshelf came from www.DoSomething.org and appealed to Dorsey because books have always been part of her home life, she said, noting her mother was a teacher.

When she approached Community Harvest about the idea, she learned somebody had donated a bookshelf, but nobody was available to maintain it, she said.

To stock the shelf, Dorsey weeded through her mother’s collection of children’s books and conducted book drives at Carroll as well as her church, Pathway Community Church. Half Price Books has contributed to the cause, as has the Garrett Public Library, which gave her about six boxes after its renovation, she said. She has sought donations at garage sales as well.

Within Hope Books’ first year, Dorsey applied for and won a $500 Disney Summer of Creativity grant, which she used to buy books, she said.

“I’ve had to pay for very, very few of them,” Dorsey said of the items Hope Books has given away.

Dorsey, who plans to attend Huntington University after high school, aimed to distribute 10,000 books by the end of 2016 - a goal she exceeded. Long term, she said, she hopes to expand the program beyond Fort Wayne.

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Source: The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, http://bit.ly/2i9P4x3

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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