CHAMPAIGN — Daniel Ramkumar wanted to raise money for a good cause while running the Provena Illinois 5K last spring, a race that's a part of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon.
So he approached then-Principal Angela Smith at Franklin Middle School, where he attends, to see what sorts of things the school needed.
Smith gave him several ideas, but he especially liked the idea of raising money to buy e-readers for his classmates. The result is a project called Nooks for Knights, which references the school's mascot.
Just before school started, 25 Nooks arrived at Franklin, and the incoming seventh-grader was on hand to help librarian Vickie Richardson unpack and charge them.
"I thought the kids would like (them)," Ramkumar said, about why he chose to raise money in particular to buy Nooks.
Ramkumar said he liked the idea of buying Nooks for his school because his family has one. When you're using it read, it marks the place where you stopped.
"You don't have to have a big shelf of books," he said, because you can download e-books to the readers. And users can also download apps; he said he particularly likes to play games.
Richardson said the school's teachers are still submitting ideas for educational ways to use the Nooks. She said they may be used for whole classes or for individual students.
"I think it's a great idea" to have Nooks on hand for students to use, Richardson said.
Ramkumar's mom, Japhia Ramkumar, said he and his younger brother, Nicolas, always run the 5K with their dad, Dave Ramkumar. The family thought it would be meaningful to participate in that community event and raise money for schools at the same time, she said.
Previously, Daniel raised money to buy international flags than hang in the hallway of the recently renovated Garden Hills Elementary in Champaign. The school has a magnet focus that's tied in with International Baccalaureate and teaches students about cultures from around the world. Nicolas Ramkumar is a fifth-grader at Garden Hills.
For this year's fundraiser, Daniel Ramkumar and his family set up a website, http://nooksforknights.info. The site allows people to donate using PayPay, so friends and family members across the country and world were able to donate. Daniel Ramkumar is still raising money to buy more Nooks, so the website is still active.
Japhia Ramkumar said she and her husband have raised their children from infancy to understand the importance of helping others.
Japhia Ramkumar's parents live near the Jamaica National Children's Home in Jamaica. So whenever the family goes to visit, she said, they take toys and clothes, and have collected things like toiletries, pencils, school, supplies and books from Daniel and Nicolas' classmates.
"What better purpose do you serve" than to give back with volunteering and fundraising, she said. "It just makes it a better place to live if everybody chips in."