Estill makes a global impact

Published 9:00 am Friday, May 23, 2014

Recent Spain Park High School graduate Sydney Estill is working to bring books to children who otherwise wouldn't have them. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Recent Spain Park High School graduate Sydney Estill is working to bring books to children who otherwise wouldn’t have them. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

The following student was selected for the 2014 Shelby County Reporter Nine Who Shine section, which recognizes excellence among this year’s high school seniors.

By LINDA LONG/For the Reporter

Spain Park High School senior Sydney Estill is passionate about reading.

“I remember when I was small, every night before I would go to bed, I would climb up with my parents and pick out a book from my collection, and listen while they read to me. I had those books memorized by heart,” she said.

Though she loved all her books, Estill had one special favorite, a book that had belonged to her dad when he was a little boy.

“It was called ‘Andrew Henry’s Meadow.’ It was like an antique, falling apart, but I loved that book to death,” Estill recalled. “It was just amazing, those bedtime stories or sitting on the porch hearing my parents or my grandparents read to us. It brought us all so close together.  I cherish those memories.”

That’s why this young philanthropist wants to share her love of reading with as many children as possible. To that end, Estill has devised a plan to collect books to be distributed to children who can’t afford to buy them. Her goal is to insure that as many children as possible have books in their homes to create their own memories.

“I got this idea a few summers ago,” she said. “I started out by going to a few neighborhood garage sales asking families to donate any children’s books they didn’t sell.” Now, she says that small local effort has evolved into a community wide cause with a name, the Re-Read Project.   “It’s gotten much bigger than I ever planned,” she said. “We are now getting books from all over the city.”

Estill said the donated children’s books are boxed up and distributed to kids through the help of her church Christ the King.

Estill’s church has also been instrumental in helping the teen take her philanthropic work to an international level with a with a yearly mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, where the young scholar, who is already mastering college level Spanish courses, serves as translator.  That however, is not her main goal on the trip.

“We also build houses. This city is very impoverished, and many families down there don’t have places to live. That’s why it’s often an effort to keep them together. This last time when we went down, I raised a little over $1,800 to buy building funds so that more houses could be built.”

Estill says she hopes she’s selected to serve on a month long extended mission trip to Tijuana this summer. In the fall, Estill will be taking her giving spirit to the University of Alabama, which awarded her a full tuition scholarship. She plans to major in business.