Kaila Boulware Sykes and her husband, Raymond, met whereas they had been college students at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “Throughout our entire relationship we always did community service work,” Sykes instructed CNN.
When her household encountered discrimination at an area e-book retailer, she knew it was one other alternative to develop their group service work.
In 2021, the couple, who’re Black, visited a e-book retailer in Ocean County, New Jersey, with their son, Truth, now 2 years outdated. “We took him there because they had hundreds of thousands of books,” mentioned Sykes. “We wanted to give our son the experience of being in a literary playground.”
But within the bookstore, Sykes mentioned, “We weren’t welcome, people were staring, whispering at us,” she mentioned. “We were frustrated, we were a little upset.”
This was “our first sign that we were doing something important that the community needed.”
“It’s a cool way to spread love, spread smiles, spread joy, spread our theme of making reading exciting for people of all ages,” she mentioned.
So far, Hidden Gems has obtained a complete of 40,000 books as donations, Sykes mentioned. They obtain donations from organizations and people, in addition to some authors who donate their books. They promote calmly used books from their storefront in New Brunswick along with handing out free books at group occasions.
“The amount of community support that we have received from this has literally been overwhelming, in a great way,” Sykes mentioned. “People from all over the world, as far as Australia, the Netherlands, Ghana, have supported our effort by donating books or sending monetary donations.”
“It really is quite amazing, the impact that can be made on literally an entire generation if we all come together and pitch in,” she mentioned.