Albom holds relief effort, aims to build 10 libraries

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Thursday, February 27, 2014


BESTSELLING author Mitch Albom visited the ravaged Tacloban area recently to announce a relief effort aimed at helping students affected by super typhoon Yolanda last November.

“I am blessed to have many Filipino readers, including many students, and I wanted to do something to help,” Albom said, during a visit to the Pawing Elementary School, one of scores of schools reduced to makeshift classes after the typhoon devastated their infrastructure.

Albom revealed he was establishing the “Donated Reading for Youth of the Philippines (Dry Philippines)” to reconstruct 10 school libraries destroyed by Yolanda and stock them with books.

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Albom pledged to help raise $160,000 needed for construction, partnering with The National Book Store (NBS) Foundation to get the project done quickly.

He said he would start with a $10,000 donation of his own. The NBS Foundation said it will match funds raised by Albom on a dollar-for-dollar basis until the goal is met.

Albom also pledged hundreds of copies of his own books to start filling the shelves, and then made a surprise announcement.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been emailing writers I know back home-and some I don’t know-to ask if they would help, seeing as many of them are popular here, particularly
with high school students,” he said.

Albom was able to secure pledges of at least 10 personalized books, one for each library, from dozens of popular writers, including Jeff Kinney (“The Wimpy Kid” series), Suzanne Collins (“The Hunger Games”), Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Amy Tan, John Grisham, JK Rowling, John Green, Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), Khaled Hosseini, Scott Turrow, James Patterson, Sophie Kinsella, Michael Chabon, Maggie
Stiefvater, Dave Barry, James McBride, Harlan Coben, Billy Collins and many more.

“They were all quick to say yes. I think we as authors always appreciate the effort people make to read and cherish their books,” Albom said. “That is so true of readers here in the Philippines, I’ve seen my own books pulled from the flood damaged homes, moldy, discolored, yet brought to me to sign. It’s incredible and heartwarming.”

Albom has been visiting the Philippines since early last week. He purchased and donated 40 yellow fishing boats to help affected fisherman in the region.

He also visited the mass graves in San Joaquin where hundreds of bodies were buried, including many children. On such grave is in the shadow of one of the sites where Dry Philippines plans to build a new library.

Albom will coordinate the Dry program through his A Hole In The Roof Foundation, a 501c3 charity, which is involved in rebuilding for the homeless after disasters, and has been operating an orphanage in Haiti since 2010, after the devastating earthquake.

Albom and NBS Foundation said their goal is to begin construction on the first three
libraries by late spring.

The website for the Dry charitable effort is http://mitchalbomcharities.org/hole-in-the-roof/Donated-Reading-for-Youth.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2014.

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