Project Butterfly students hold book drive for African Library Project

Volunteers organized the book donations.

A student-run nonprofit recently collected about 1,800 books during a five-week book drive to help build a library in Uganda, East Africa, by partnering with the African Library Project.

The nonprofit, Project Butterfly, launched in 2019 includes students from several local high schools. It evolved from an effort to put on shows for senior citizens.

“By that time we turned our attention to donating surgical masks, donating to homeless shelters and also helping with relief for small business,” said Katherine Ge, 15, a sophomore at The Bishop’s School.

She added that book drives have been an area of emphasis for the group, which had done two book drives previously.

“We’ve always been really focused on book drives, so I felt like expanding our efforts to more than just San Diego would be really kind,” Katherine said.

The drive resulted in about 1,600 K-8 books and more than 200 baby board books, in addition to $700 raised through GoFundMe and cash donations.

Group members Ryan and Lily Qin collected almost 400 books.

“In the giant collection we had, there were books for all age groups,” Ryan said in a statement.

The books were shipped on Nov. 23.

“I think we’ll continue with the African library project for another few years,” Katherine said. “Right now we’re planning some fundraising.”

Project Butterfly has accumulated more than 40 volunteers as of November. The events and activities the organization has hosted include community performances at several local venues, donating PPE to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, holding blanket drives to help the homeless and tutoring.

Ruby Gao, a sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy, said there was a “butterfly effect” when the students started promoting the book drive. And there were 11 volunteers who immediately signed up to help, and several others joined later.

“We already had a lot of members in Project Butterfly, so every single one of them did a lot of work to also spread the news,” she said.

For more information about Project Butterfly, visit