This 20-Year-Old Boy Single-Handedly Started A Book Donation Drive And Raised Over P5 Million Worth Of Books
A single spark started a flame in his heart—and now, he has donated more than 1,700 books worth over P5 million to Bulacan State University, hoping his little efforts could change the country.
This 20-year-old boy is Chris Mills, son to Rebecca Bustamante-Mills, the famous Filipina OFW who toiled in Canada to become a CEO of her own company. Now, Rebecca and her husband Richard are regularly organizing business events under Asia CEO Forum with the thrust of inspiring businesses and industry leaders to strive to become better and help develop the country.
Chris admits his parents' philanthropic efforts rubbed off on him growing up. And despite having been raised with a privileged life, Chris says her mother made sure she raised him and his brother with the humility she still possesses until now. “I was lucky that my mom made sure we were really close to our family in Pangasinan, so I always knew what it was like in the province. So I’ve always been in touch with our roots,” he says.
This is why Chris was always involved in volunteer work, ever since he was young. He carried with him this drive to help the less fortunate when he finally moved to Canada for college, even while he had to battle his own personal problems.
“When I moved to Canada, I really hit a low point in my life. I had bad depression, social anxiety. I didn’t study hard. I didn’t do anything in my life. All I did was play video games,” Chris admits. But last year, he finally freed himself from the shackles that held him back and knew that it was time he did something.
“There was this speaker, Professor Jordan Petersen. He’s a University of Toronto Psychology teacher. And one of the things he said was, ‘Carry the heaviest weight that you can.’” Chris recalls. “No one has really told us, ‘You can’t live your whole life playing video games. You have to grow up at some point and take control of your life.’ But listening to him made me realize that here on Earth, you don’t really know if heaven or hell exists, but you can do your little bit to set yourself in the right path. You can either choose the battles you’d like to overcome or life will choose it for you.”
And so it dawned on him that it was the time he pulled himself together and make something out of his life.
Inspired by the efforts of anchor and entrepreneur Quintin Pastrana, who was opening libraries all over the country under the Library Renewal Partnership, Chris knew he can do something similar with his own connections and efforts.
Amazed by the availability of high-quality textbooks in Canada, Chris resolved that if he could get these books to public schools in the Philippines, he would really have a big impact on the students. So he started speaking to professors and students at his school to get his Books-for-the-Philippines project off the ground.
Initially, he had a lot of difficulty. “I think everyone thought I was just a kid and couldn’t pull it off,” he says. But eventually, a well-liked professor from Trent University, Russell Turner, found out about the project and offered support. With Russell’s support, and the support from his fraternity brothers at Tau Kappa Epilson, Chris finally had the ammunition to launch his project.
“I went room-to-room at school, and took the books that people didn’t want off their hands. And it’s not just me. Everyone started coming in together to help, to carry the books. One guy even let us borrow the truck. And LBC came in clutch and offered to ship all the books to the Philippines for free,” Chris shares.
With everyone contributing even just a bit of what they can to his cause, he was finally able to bring the thousands of books he collected to the Philippines. Bulacan State University became the very first recipient of the books from Chris’ ASEAN Intellectual Development (AID) Project. And this month, Chris was able to deliver the books himself to the university.
“It was nice to know that the books were finally put to good use,” Chris says. “Right now I’m just a one man organization, but I’m excited for more people to contribute and join the cause.”
To help Chris with his book drive, get in touch with him via the AID Project Facebook page.
Featured photo from the ASEAN Intellectual Development Project's Facebook page