By Krista Meyerhoff
Hunter Berk, 18
Cause: College Bound Collection
Hometown: O'Hara Township, Pennsylvania
Family: Mom Nancy; dad Ronald; brother Dan, 21
Hunter Berk sits in his basement knee-deep in college prep books—essay writing guides, AP flashcards, SAT prep manuals, and college directories. He sorts them based on their condition (some have been written in but most have not) and packs everything up in his car to drop off at Fox Chapel Area Senior High School. Hunter's efforts are part of College Bound Collection (CBC), a program he founded in June 2009 to distribute free college prep materials to those in need.
Back in November 2008, the then 16-year-old sophomore began studying for the SAT. When he noticed how much prep books cost—some over $50—he was shocked. "I wondered how all students are supposed to have the same opportunities if some can't even afford the necessary study aids," he says. Hunter placed collection boxes, along with a sign asking seniors who had completed their college entry exams to donate used materials, in his high school's front office, at the public library, and in a cafe. To get more people involved, Hunter asked a school administrator to e-mail details about the program to parents.
Dozens quickly contributed their kids' study guides. Within two months Hunter had gathered more than 100 prep books, CDs, and flashcards to store in his high school guidance office and local library. Now teens from any school can use the supplies. Though students can keep the books, many choose to return them so that somebody else can benefit. "Each kid gets the chance to play her part in the collection's success," Hunter says.
Since CBC launched two years ago, Hunter has received nearly 400 study aids. He is now looking for another high schooler to take over CBC's main duties, but after graduation this spring he will continue his efforts to expand the program to other towns. "I hope that teens around the country will take my lead and start collections," Hunter says. "It's a simple way to fix a problem that's common everywhere."
Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.