The Daily Illini

RSO continues legacy of University alumnus

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RSO continues legacy of University alumnus

By Abby Paeth, Staff Writer

Created this semester, Project Hart’s main focus is to collect and donate e-readers with a pre-downloaded library to children in need. Project Hart was inspired by Project Gutenberg, an online database of free books created by University alumnus and inventor of the electronic book, Michael Hart. Project Hart became an official corporation on October 7, 2015.

Jorian HealCC, CEO, founder of Project Hart and junior in LAS, was a close family friend of Michael Hart. Heal even remembers receiving her first computer from Hart when she was little.

In 2011, Hart passed away of a heart attack.

“He was a really interesting character (and) had a big impact on my life. He did so much good for the world. He always said that we have to break down the bars of ignorance and educate the world,” Heal said. “I’m trying to take Project Gutenberg a step further in his memory.”

Heal said that Hart believed in eliminating any obstacles that prevent children from receiving the best possible education and went to Congress several times to change the copyright laws that prohibit books from being available online. He also felt that books should be free to the public and that no child should ever have to miss out on a quality education.

Heal said she has been dreaming about starting Project Hart since her junior year in high school. She explained that as a child, she did not grow up with much money, but her mother was able to take her to the library every single day.

“I felt like reading made such a big impact on my life, and I just want to make sure that other kids have that same chance with parents that don’t have time to go to the library,” Heal said.

Now as a junior at the University, she is proud to say that she is one step closer to achieving her goal.

“We are solely donation-based. Without people’s donations we are not able to get e-readers, and with people’s donations, the only thing that it is going to go to is the purchase and distribution of e-readers,” Heal said.

Christopher PiemonteCC, chief financial officer of Project Hart and senior in LAS, also stressed the importance of sharing books with people in need.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping less fortunate people who are not born into a privilege. I like the idea of being able to help kids have access to books,” Piemonte said.

Piemonte also said he believes that many students at the University owe a large portion of their success to the resources that are available to them and wants to help develop a love for reading and academia in young children.

According to Heal, Project Hart is in the beginning of the fundraising process but hopes to start distributing e-readers soon. The organization has done fundraising by selling fancy hot chocolates and chai teas on the Main Quad and plans to do more fundraising with Mia Za’s, an Italian restaurant on Green Street. In the future, Heal hopes to have drop-off boxes in different locations, including schools and libraries, that people can use to donate their used e-readers and tablets.

“A lot of organizations donate money and clothing to maintain the lifestyle, (but) we’re giving them books to enrich their lifestyle and improve their education,” said Delaney Heal, freshman in Business and communications director and special events manager of Project Hart. Delaney, cousin of Jorian Heal, said she feels Project Hart is different than other organizations because it provides children with knowledge rather than physical necessities.

“I think the e-reader is more desirable because it is a piece of technology, but yet (aids) learning. (Technology) is the way the world is moving,” Delaney said.

Heal also said that having an e-reader gives children ownership of their education, and for children who come from lower income families, it means a lot to have something tangible.

“If in twenty years we only help one kid, then that’s one kid that made a difference,” she said.

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