Books ‘drive’ ULS student to help others

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 9, 2018

 Matthew Lesha

Matthew Lesha

GROSSE POINTES/DETROIT — University Liggett School student Matthew Lesha is always looking for ways to help other people.

He also has a passion for reading — something he developed as a young child — and became an accelerated reader while attending Our Lady Star of the Sea in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The 17-year-old Liggett senior is sharing his love of reading with others who might struggle to buy books. Throughout the month of October, Lesha is holding a book drive to benefit Brilliant Detroit.

Brilliant Detroit, which is headquartered at 5675 Larkins St. in Detroit, is an organization dedicated to building successful neighborhoods and families where the children are between infancy 8 years old. By providing programming and support year-round, Brilliant Detroit aims to help families with what they need to be school-ready, healthy and stable.

Lesha has set a goal of collecting 1,000 books for families who could use a little extra help. So far, he has gathered about 250 children’s titles. Oct. 31 is the last day for donations.

“Brilliant Detroit always needs a lot of books,” Lesha said.

Reading is so important to Lesha that last year, he became a tutor with SOAR Detroit, a local organization that provides literacy tutoring, sports and camps to students who could use extra support.

Lesha underwent training to prepare for his tutoring responsibilities and was paired up with a sixth-grade student. They met once a week, and Lesha described the experience as “awesome” and “rewarding.”

“You can see the week-to-week improvement. He went from a second-grade (reading level) to fourth grade,” Lesha said.

Since the SOAR Detroit tutoring program does not run in the summer, Lesha became involved with Brilliant Detroit, but he has plans to return to SOAR Detroit this fall. Representatives from Brilliant Detroit are pleased to know the book drive will benefit the organization.

“Matthew has been an invaluable volunteer at our organization,” Brilliant Detroit co-founder and CEO Cindy Eggleton said in a prepared statement. “Through his efforts to mobilize his local community, we will be able to provide families and children with a fundamental tool to help them be school- and life-ready.”

The following locations will be drop-off sites for new and gently used books for infants to children up to age 8: Grosse Pointe Shores City Offices, 795 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores; Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 467 Fairford Road in Grosse Pointe Woods; St. Paul on the Lake Catholic Church, 157 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Farms; and University Liggett School, 1045 Cook Road in Grosse Pointe Woods.