High School Senior Helps Kids Around the World Learn to Read

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"It's cliche, but you are never too young to improve the world," says Charles Rappazzo. The 17 year old is currently a semi-finalist in Build-A-Bear's 2010 Huggable Heroes Award for his work to improve literacy and education in his hometown and Africa.

With help from his sister, Charles founded Literacy Education for All People (LEAP) in 2006. He began by collecting books and helping kids in the Albany, NY area get their library cards. Charles also did local book readings, and today LEAP has raised over $6 million in school supplies for students.

Not long after starting LEAP, a family friend from Nigeria told Charles that 40% of kids under 15 in his town can't read and the nearest library is 40 miles away. The high school senior has since collected over 180,000 books and raised $10,000 to start a library and computer center at a girls school in Awkuzu, Nigeria.
"I guess I have had a lifelong drive to want to help people," explains Charles. "I realized at a young age I was fortunate for how my life was and hearing the stories of people in underprivileged countries has inspired me to give back."

Donate to LEAP by e-mailing Charles at crappazz@nycap.rr.com.

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