WHS teen partners with Penguin Random House to give back to communities affected by wildfires

The aftermath of a forest fire on the west coast (Photo by Michael Norris)

WHS junior Lucy Langhart is a Teen Ambassador for Teen Readers Society, a California based organization that is partnering with Penguin Random House to donate up to 5,000 books in the coming months. Penguin Random House is an American publishing company that sells over 400 million books per year. 

TRS and Penguin Random House are supporting the Phoenix-Talent school district in Oregon, where 30-45% of students reported losing their homes. They’re also supporting the San Lorenzo Valley Unified District in California where 113 students reported losing their homes. 

The wildfires that are currently raging in the western United States have affected many students’ abilities to attend school and access basic school supplies. This year’s fires are particularly damaging and many people were forced to evacuate their homes. Thousands of people have lost their homes to these wildfires, which destroyed their personal belongings in the process.  

TRS is a non-profit organization founded by Judit Langh and Michael Norris, that encourages teens to read in the current age of social media and technology. As described on their website, one of its goals is “to cut across the barriers that have created negative attitudes about reading for teenagers and restore excitement about the pleasures of reading and books.”  

Langh was inspired to start TRS after noticing that her daughters and their friends were not reading much and were more focused on social media and their phones. As Langh wrote in her founder’s note on the TRS website, “Teen Readers Society is a growing community of young people and chances are they will lead you to books you have not come across at school.” 

The company decided to start an initiative geared towards supporting students who have been heavily impacted by the wildfires, and they are currently accepting donations of children’s and teen books. “We’ve had this idea for a while to try and help because [the other ambassadors] live in California; they see [the destruction] firsthand,” said Langhart. 

Langhart strongly connected with TRS’s message and said, “Books are such an important part of growing up and are such an amazing thing to have in your life.” 

Another initiative that TRS is currently working on is the Wish to Read program where teens from all over the country can contact the organization with a book title they wish to read but do not have access to. 

Langhart, the only team member on the east coast, joined TRS last May. “I love reading,” she said. “When I came across their Instagram I was really interested so I messaged them asking to be a part of the organization.”

As a TRS teen ambassador and core staff member, Langhart makes classics content for the Instagram page and works on their various programs. Volunteer interns help with various campaigns and webpage setup. Langhart occasionally works with interns proficient in graphic design on the Instagram page.

To find out more about TRS, visit their website, or follow their Instagram account @teenreaderssociety. To donate to TRS, visit the support us section of their website. 

Langhart said, “If you are interested in doing community service and also have a passion for English, TRS is a great organization to join. We’re always getting applications for new volunteer interns.” 

If you are interested in applying for a position as a volunteer intern, contact Lucy Langhart at [email protected].