Rochester 10-year-old donates $700 worth of diverse books to school

Oct 26, 2020

ROCHESTER — Stop us if you’ve heard this one — how does a fourth grader from Rochester turn greens from the ground into hundreds of greens to purchase racially diverse books for his school library?

Well, ‘lettuce’ tell you.

Kelcey Roberston donated $700 worth of racially diverse books to Rochester Memorial School on Oct. 23 to create a space in his school’s library that spoke to students of every racial background.

In the beginning of June, Black Lives Matter marches took place throughout the Tri-Town. Robertson, a fourth-grader who is biracial, couldn’t attend because his mother Rhonda Baptiste has health complications. 

So the two sat outside their home, put up signs of support and watched as the Rochester march passed. 

But Kelcey thought to himself, “I want to do more.” 

Looking at the family garden, the 10-year-old realized he could sell the lettuce that was growing as a way of fundraising.

Well, the fundraising grew — a lot.

Between the greens he sold, plus independent donations, Kelcey and his parents raised $1,070.

In turn, the money was used to purchase books for one of Kelcey’s favorite activities: reading.

But the books aren’t just for him.

Local anti-racism group Tri-Town Against racism is doing a book drive, named “Tangi’s Drive for Diverse Books” after group co-leader Tangi Thomas. The drive seeks to put more diverse books in the school libraries across the Old Rochester Regional School District and municipal libraries of the Tri-Town.

Of the $1,070 that Kelcey raised, $700 was used to buy books that spoke to him. The rest of the funds were donated to Tri-Town Against Racism.

“I like to read,” Kelcey said, with Rhonda adding that he wanted kids to “see themselves inside the books in the library.” 

In total, Kelcey gave 59 books to the Rochester Memorial School Library, with more going to the four other schools in the district. 

“I can’t think of a better way to help others,” Rochester Memorial School Principal Derek Medeiros said. “It’s what we do.”

He and Assistant Principal Charles West accepted the books outside of the school on Oct. 23. Tri-Town Against Racism co-leader Alison Noyce was also present at the donation acceptance.

The generous actions of Kelcey “inspires people of all ages,” Noyce said. “He was able to find his own way to make a difference.” 

There’s a sticker in each book that says it was donated by Kelcey with his signature.

With books in the junior high and high school, Rhonda said he’ll be able to read the books he helped pick out all throughout his time in the school district. 

To donate funds that will be used to purchase books for Tangi’s Drive for Diverse Books, visit the book drive’s campaign page.