WILLIAMSTOWN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A truck arrived at Tall Pines Day Camp in Williamstown, New Jersey for a special pick-up: more than 5,000 books collected by campers and staff to help children and teachers who need them.
"I mean it was incredible," 9-year-old camper Lena Dicastelnuovo of Washington Township said.
"We all chipped in and brought in books for people," camper Ana Vogel of Voorhees said.
Each summer, the camp picks a cause for 'Kindness Week.'
This year, the cause was a South Jersey non-profit called BookSmiles.
A few years ago, Tall Pines raised about 3,000 books for BookSmiles. This year they smashed that record.
"I brought in books so that more kids could read them," 7-year-old camper Blake Stell said.
"The first day they hit 800. The second day they hit about 1,200, and then they just kept going," Tall Pines owner and director Andrew Yankowitz said.
"The very last day, we actually had a kid run up with the last book, and the entire camp went wild. It was pretty cool," staff member Brianna Butters said.
In the end, close to 5,200 books were collected, in addition to jars full of coins for the non-profit.
"The need is great. It's crushing. They're needed in Philadelphia, in Camden, Trenton, and all over New Jersey," Larry Abrams, founder and executive director of BookSmiles, said.
Abrams is also an English teacher at Lindenwold High School and was a former Tall Pines staffer.
"Kids who grow up with no books in their home come to kindergarten with a huge disadvantage, and if they're not at grade level by 4th grade- that's a problem," Abrams said.
Part of the message for these campers is that this book drive should not be a one-time effort. They can take the initiative in their own communities.
"It instills that charitable giving from a very young age," Yankowitz said.
"We really want these Tall Pines kids to go back to their elementary schools, their middle schools, and their high schools and create book drives right there at their schools," Abrams said.
"I just feel so happy that kids around the world are getting books that they need," Dicastelnuovo said.