Dearborn teens start book drive for Center for Exceptional families

At a recent trip to the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families (CEF) in Dearborn, Dema Fawaz saw two needs: new bookshelves and books to fill them.

The high school senior and her sister, Lara, decided to help fill that need. They started up a book drive and petitioned the Sadr Foundation to pay for the new bookshelves.

“I couldn’t imagine that children didn’t have the opportunity to read as many books as they wanted to,” said Dema Fawaz. She said she started with her own shelves when she looked for books to donate and came up with dozens—although she couldn’t bring herself to part with her Harry Potter series. She then spread the word at school and through the foundation, which she said was very willing to help.

The Dearborn-based organization, established in 1999, is dedicated to providing assistance to the underserved in the U.S. and Lebanon. The foundation has provided funds for organizations such as the Wayne County Youth Fund, Children’s Hospital in Detroit, Focus Hope, Relief for Hurricane Katrina, and has funded the construction of medical and educational buildings in Lebanon, as well.

Leila Fawaz, chairwoman of the foundation, said the decision was an easy one.

“We thought it was a good idea; a good way to support the community,” she said.

The Center for Exceptional Families serves children with multiple disabilities and their families throughout southeastern Michigan. The Center currently serves about 3,000 families and provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy for clients throughout their life journey, as well as support for family members.
Tammy Morris, manager of the center, said the foundation took great care to match the bookshelves with the remainder of the facility.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of the donation. “Hopefully we can fill all the shelves, soon.”

Dema Fawaz said the book drive has been well received so far, and the books have been piling in. “It’s an ongoing project,” she said. “Initially it’s just children’s books, but we’re going to do more.”

Joumana Fawaz said she hoped her daughters would serve as a positive example for other teens and young adults.

“I’m very proud of them,” she said. “I hope they continue, when they go on to college, to give back to the community.”

Anyone interested in donating books to the drive can drop off the new or gently used children’s books at the Sadr Foundation office at 5601 Schaefer Road in Dearborn or call the Center for Exceptional Families at (313) 996-1960.

CUTLINE: Leila Fawaz (left), chairwoman of the Sadr Foundation, Dema Fawaz, and Tammy Morris, manager of the Oakwood Center for Exceptional Families said they hope to be able to fill the new bookshelves donated by the Sadr Foundation with books from an ongoing bookdrive.