Bay Area briefs: 2 students coordinate globe-spanning book drive

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, two local students have found a way to help others at home and abroad.

Friendswood High School sophomore Arnav Goel and Clear Lake High School 2021 graduate Raaghav Kavuri founded Act Kind Organization to collect resources for those in need during the pandemic.

One of their efforts this summer originated 8,600 miles away.

The Polkadot Library in Kabarnet, Kenya, needed books; so Goel and Kavuri created fliers, contacted the Friendswood Public Library and posted information on social media. News of the book drive soon reached Friendswood Independent School District employee Yvette Camarillo, who had been tasked with finding a new home for retired library books. Act Kind seemed to be an ideal recipient for what she had — about 800 to 1,000 books, she said.

“I took the first load of books to the address I was given and knocked on the door,” Camarillo said. “When (Goel) opened the door, I was surprised to see the person I had been in touch with was a student. Here was this young person who was doing something out of the ordinary, spending his own time helping others. It warmed my heart.”

Goel and Kavuri also have distributed books to charities around the Houston area.

“The need is not just in Africa, there are a lot of cities here, too,” Goel said. “In Houston, there’s a lot of poverty, so we want to target areas that need help and spread the love.”

Future book, clothing and food drives are planned. To learn more or donate items, email

Scout’s project benefits intermediate school

A Clear Lake High School freshman recently unveiled the outdoor classroom at Brookside Intermediate School during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.

John John Rao III, a former Brookside Science Magnet student, designed and built the space as part of his Eagle Scout service project for Boy Scouts of America Troop 554.

“John John approached me to build something that would benefit the school and students,” Brookside Science Magnet liaison Joey Segura said. “The idea of an outdoor classroom came to life for everyone to use throughout the year in conjunction with the school’s greenhouse and garden.”

With help from members of his troop and his father, who served as site supervisor, Rao developed a construction plan, gathered donations and built an outdoor stage, benches and planter boxes.

“Our goal is to use the outdoor classroom and garden in conjunction with some of our core science courses and science magnet elective classes that focus on plant science, environmental science and our Texas native fauna and flora course,” Segura said.

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