Student leads book donation drive

Shares hobby with lower-income kids.Student earns community service award.

When she was younger, Centerville High School senior Sabrina Grandhi read “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” a nine-book series. When she was older, she graduated to more mature stories such as “The Hunger Games” and the “Divergent” series. She enjoyed reading and wanted to spread that joy to others.

In high school, she became involved in the Interact Club, one of the Centerville’s four service organizations. She came up with an idea for a book drive that resulted in 3,000 donated books to lower-income elementary students.

That was one of the many reasons Washington Twp. trustees presented her with the 13th annual Community Service Award on April 20.

“Sabrina is a young woman who will have a positive impact on society. She is highly motivated, conscientious, personable and sincere,” said CHS guidance counselor Teresa Lonsbury, who coordinates the award with the township.

Grandhi served as the Interact Club’s vice president for three years and then was elected president. Service club advisors credit Grandhi for building a stronger organization. Under her leadership, club membership doubled, and more assignments help world communities. She chaired the club’s campaign to purchase water pumps for Africa and Guatemala.

“This award honors her dedication, her important contributions to the community, and the superior example of community service that she has set for us all,” said Washington Twp. trustee president Dale Berry.

Grandhi presented the book drive idea to club members and organized the entire effort. This past March 15, she was among the 15 Interact Club members who delivered the books to Eastmont Schools in downtown Dayton. Several of the members read books to students at the elementary/middle school.

“We were overwhelmed. The students had huge smiles on their faces,” Grandhi said. “They had something that was theirs that they could escape into. Some of them didn’t even have a book in their house.”

She spoke to the students about her love of learning, and how reading a book every day when she was a child helped her succeed at school, and eventually prepare for college.

“I’ve found that I like to focus on being a driver for education or knowledge,” said Grandhi. “The joy of being able to put a book in their hands is very powerful to me.”

Grandhi was only 11 years old when she started volunteering at the Dayton Men’s Homeless Shelter with her family and friends. She has amassed more than 400 hours of service work that includes 34 volunteer activities. She’s a member of the Asian American Youth Council, the National Honor Society and the India Club of Greater Dayton. She credits her parents, Raj and Susan Grandhi, and older sister and brother, Natasha and Jay, for setting a good example.

“I would encourage younger kids to take a leadership role. It may be intimidating, but it will help you so much in the future,” said Grandhi, who plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. “It contributes to your character [and helps you to become] more self-actualized human beings.”

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