High school student Gabriella Ganem founded Kidzstack to provide local children with essential reading materials, and to inspire a love for the written word.
By Katherine Duncan
The 3,000-mile distance between Gabriella Ganem and her grandmother didn’t keep them apart and, ultimately, it led to a nonprofit that is benefiting children in Orange County. While growing up in Newport Beach, Ganem maintained a close relationship with her grandmother in West Virginia through a virtual book club. “She was an English teacher for a long, long time,” Ganem explains. “So the way she decided that we should connect with each other was we did weekly Skype calls [to discuss the books]. I attribute that to my love for reading.”
In late 2019, as a high school junior, Ganem’s love for the written word inspired her to start Kidzstack, a Newport Beach-based nonprofit that is dedicated to supporting children’s literacy by providing books to those with limited resources. “I have been a part of my community in a lot of service projects because I wanted to see what people need, how I can help, and one of the things that I have seen that was really pertinent was that a lot of kids in the Newport Beach area, and the Orange County area in general, have a stronger need for materials,” Ganem says. “Some kids don’t necessarily have the ability to access the reading materials that they need.”
Shortly after she founded Kidzstack, the COVID-19 pandemic hit OC, making the need even greater. “Kids weren’t even able to go tutor at their normal place they needed to at the community center, or have the local library that they could walk over to,” she says. She hosted a fundraiser to bring books to those children, starting with her school, Pacifica Christian High School. Despite the school’s small size, that first fundraiser generated 500 books, which Ganem picked up from outside of students’ homes and then sanitized before delivering them to Lighthouse Community Center in Santa Ana.
Next, she hosted a fundraiser at Mariners Church Preschool, receiving another 1,000 books. To ensure the books became available to those most in need, she partnered with the outreach team at Mariners Church for distribution. To date, Kidzstack has successfully distributed 2,000 books. Ganem says that the nonprofit will host its next donation event in June.
Kidzstack seeks reading materials for children of all ages, from those just learning to read to those finishing high school. All types of books are welcome, except text books, which Ganem collects during separate runs. In addition to books, Kidzstack also accepts monetary donations via its website. Ganem also encourages those who might be interested in volunteering to contact the organization via the website.
“I really hope that Kidzstack will continue to bring books for these kids to further their education, but also to have them excited about reading,” she says. To learn more and get involved, visit kidzstack.com.