Woodside Teen’s Eco- Friendly Way to Support Local Library

Recycling To Boost Book Collection

Kashfia Zaman of Woodside is a sophomore at Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and also a social entrepreneur of amazing skill.

Shown above are Long Island City Library Manager Tienya Smith with Kashfia Zaman.

She started a community service project that improves the environment, raises money for Queens Library and raises social consciousness in the business community, all at the same time. She collects discarded bottles and cans, cashes in the deposit, donates the money to the library and has asked local businesses to match what she collects.

To date, more than $120 has gone to the purchase of new books for tweens at the library.

The project began after a teacher suggested that students start a volunteer project.

“I thought to do something concerning the environment because of global warming,” said Zaman, 14, who aspires to be a software engineer or computer programmer. “So I thought about recycling bottles and cans. And I remembered in my elementary school there was a teacher who, when she recycled bottles and cans, she would cash them in to help her sister whose house fell down in a tornado. So I got all this money, and I decided to do something for the community.”

“I decided to give it to the library because the library has always been a very important thing to me,” she added. “It was always there for me. I could always go to the library and request as many books as I want.”

Then, it occurred to her to go to local businesses and ask them to match whatever funds she raised herself. With the help of her teacher, Zaman drafted a written pledge and asked the businesses to sign. So far, Zaman has received matching funds from Imagination Unisex Hair Designer, Anthia Digenakis of Function Enhancing Physical Therapy and Guillermo Hung of Pao & Cha Cha.

Zaman chose John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” as one of her donated titles. It is very popular among tweens (10-12 year olds). When asked why she chose books for people younger than herself, she said, “little kids, if you start giving them something to do as a habit, they pick it up quicker than older kids. I’ve seen that in my sister and myself. So if we could get little kids in the habit of reading, as they get older, they would still have that habit. I hope [the readers] would see that an average child bought them the book and they would also feel more inspired to do more volunteer work and help out in their community. And they should know they don’t have to be anything special in order to do this. And also just love the book and love reading-use it as a hobby.”

Tienya Smith, the community library manager at Queens Library at Long Island City said, “I was completely blown away by the vastness of her project and I was excited to buy books for our children-especially the John Green books.”

And yet Zaman has bigger plans for the library.

“My team and I are also constructing a website where we talk about keeping more libraries open during the weekends. That way, students can have access to libraries on the weekend to do their homework or have access to the Internet,” she said. “On the website we have letters and pictures explaining why we would want to keep the libraries open on weekends. My friend and I are also writing a letter to the Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him if he could make a little more space in the budget for libraries. The website is still under construction.”

Zaman stated she has learned a lot in interfacing with local businesses. She has learned “to be very patient with everything because when I went to local businesses, you meet a lot of different personalities, and sometimes you have to be patient with them, you can’t lash out.”

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