Newsday 8/18/2009

The garage of Jeremy Schneck’s Dix Hills home is stacked to the ceiling with books—and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since 2005, the junior at North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck has collected tens of thousands of books through Reading Reflections, a program he founded with cousin Daniel Mendelsohn of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan (graduate of Progressive School of Long Island).  The program donates new or gently used books to schools and hospitals.  He came up with the idea after hearing of a family friend who was spearheading construction of a Muslim school in Guyana and needed educational material.

Danny's service project

“In my house I grew up surrounded by books,” said Schneck, 16.  “I want to pass my love of reading on to others.”

Since the first donations,  Schneck and a group of high schoolers in Nassau and Suffolk have focused closer to home by donating books to agencies such as the Nassau County Department of Health and the St. Mary’s Care at Home Program, based in Bayside.  The students host book drivesaat schools and contacted various bookstores for donations.  Some students donated from their own collections.

Most recently the teens donated bookshelves for  a new waiting room at Stony Brook University Medical Center and 900 books to Bowling Green Elementary School in Westbury.

“The children were so excited when they saw the arrangements of books,” said Debra Berger, a third-grade teacher at Bowling Green.  “Many of them have just a few books at home.”

Others who volunteer in Reading Reflections include Billy Haber of Half Hollow Hills High School West and Leigh Goldstein, Robert Lavi, Jordan Roga and Jonathan Zinn of North Shore Hebrew Academy High School.