When Saugus resident Karsten Le Blanc began collecting book donations for his Eagle Scout service project, he never imagined the turnout he’d receive.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program, with only 4% of Scouts achieving this nationally, according to Scouts BSA.
The 17-year-old chose to do a neighborhood-wide book drive, as he wanted to do something he was passionate about for his project.
“What’s better in life than getting lost in a good story? So, I thought if there are people in this community that don’t necessarily have the ability to afford a book … I wanted to make sure they have that opportunity,” Le Blanc said.
Le Blanc decided to collect books for Santa Clarita-based nonprofit Project Books, delivering flyers to advertise his efforts to 700 homes in the Saugus area.
What started as a goal to collect 900 books quickly skyrocketed, as donations began to flood in before the flyers had even hit doorsteps.
Le Blanc had put out a call for volunteers to help hand out flyers on social media, and instead, had dozens in the community offering up books of their own.
Then when the flyers were finally delivered, Le Blanc ended up collecting more than 1,400 books.
“So the day we began the project, we already hit our goal, and that’s when I knew this is going to be crazy,” Le Blanc said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness. What are we going to do with all these books?’”
The Le Blancs turned their three-car garage into a library of sorts, piling boxes filled with books in every space they could find, but still they had to turn people away.
In total, Le Blanc ended up collecting 9,200 books from local Santa Clarita residents, a feat Marcia Decker, who founded Project Books more than 10 years ago, said was “beyond belief.”
“He told us his goal was to reach 900 books, which was dynamite,” Decker said, “so I’m totally overwhelmed. … He’s got the magic touch, and I’m positive he will succeed in whatever he does in life.”
While a huge undertaking, Le Blanc’s father Stephan said the project’s been a terrific experience.
“As a parent, it’s hard because you want to help as much as you can, but you have to let him do it … (and) he ran the show,” Stephan said. “It truly instills confidence in him. He was very well organized so everything he did ran very smoothly. He was prepared.”
Now, donated books are set to be distributed to local libraries, homework centers and community centers in need of them.