Josh Li

Junior Aidan Chen set up a station for gathering donations at the 2019 Spring Fling.

WHS student creates a non profit program

While juggling the chaos and substantial academic work of high school, junior Aidan Chen started and continues to run a non-profit organization called Books for Babies. Chen’s program helps to raise awareness, gather funds, and books of various languages for premature babies who have missed out on human conversation due to hospitalization.

Books for Babies was created in 2017 after Chen’s inspirational visit to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

“When I visited the NICU, I noticed that there were many beds full of babies and it was very quiet, except for the sound of the machines monitoring the babies’ lives,” Chen said. “I did some research and found that NICU babies miss out on human conversation. I thought this would be a great place to combine my love of reading with a cause I could devote my time to.”

Chen’s program initially, was only able to fund Books for Babies using donations from his close friends and family.

“In the first year of its conception, I mostly devoted my time to soliciting donations from people in my personal inner circle. That includes my family friends, family, and whom my family friends know,” Chen said.

Chen commented on how his program expanded through gaining more publicity and donations.

As the Books for Babies program expanded, Chen work gained more publicity.

“I have expanded by giving speeches at the Weston Rotary club, set up a booth at the Weston Winterfest, and solicited donations from publishers, such as Chronicle Books,” Chen said. “Chronicle books has netted me over 1,000 books over the course of this charity.”

One event that contributed to Chen’s organization was the red envelope fundraiser. Sophomore Angela Shen, a member of the Asian Student Union (ASU), elaborated on the event.

   “ASU hosted a gift card raffle in celebration of Chinese/Lunar New Year. The fundraiser was from February 11-15 at the table outside the cafeteria [and] the funds went to Books for Babies,” Shen said.

Overall, Chen’s program has raised $10,000 through donations and funds. Around $3,000 of that amount was donated to March of Dimes, a program that pursues research about premature babies.

   Junior Emma Lambrecht addressed the positive characteristics that Chen has which helped him create a successful program.  

“Aidan is a smart, hardworking person and very friendly, he has a good sense of humor, which makes him more personal,” Lambrecht said.

Furthermore, librarian of seven years Alida Hanson recognized Chen’s particular book selection which contributed to his success.

“Aidan asked me how the library buys books because he wanted to ensure he could get the widest selection of books for the best price. Often when people want to donate books somewhere, they will take anything,” Hanson said, “Aidan was different because he knew what books he wanted, making this a better quality program.”

Furthermore, Hanson was particularly impressed by Chen’s thoughtfulness in his book choices.

“I was impressed that he wanted to select the titles because not only did he recognize the value of reading [but] he also recognized the value of choosing the right books. I am really impressed by the amount of understanding and selection works that went into this project,” Hanson commented.

   By founding this program, Chen stated that he feels his time and dedication is going to a good cause.

“I get the sense that I’ve done something to help and something good with my time. School can sometimes be difficult. Doing this nonprofit has allowed me to see a wider picture and to know other people need help, and that I am studying and doing something for a reason,” Chen said.

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