How Cara McCollum’s Legacy Helps Spark a Love of Learning

When Cara McCollum founded the Birthday Book Project as a teenager in Forrest City, Arkansas, it’s likely she didn’t know the local impact the project would have on early literacy when she came to South Jersey. The Birthday Book Project provides brand new gift-wrapped books for children K-5th grade on their birthdays as a special gift—because reading and early literacy are gifts every child deserves.

In February of 2016, Cara was tragically killed in a car accident. Her mission, however, lives on through the lives of her friends, her peers, and dedicated volunteers who carry on a tradition of meeting together to wrap brand new books and distribute them to local schools in South Jersey and Forrest City, where it all began.

Though the Birthday Book Project has been impacted by the pandemic, books are still getting into the hands of children thanks to these amazing volunteers.

Since its inception when Cara was just a teenager, the Birthday Book Project has donated tens of thousands of books to children and has helped spark new interest in reading as our world becomes increasingly digitized.

Cara, who was named Miss New Jersey in 2013, was the lead news anchor of SNJ Today’s nightly newscast from 2015 when it launched until her passing. Cara’s gift to the world was more than grace and infectious positivity. She’s given the gift of reading to underprivileged children and helped to make so many birthdays just a little bit brighter.

When you use the Xspero™ app on everyday purchases 20% of your purchase goes directly to a charity you choose in the app and all without costing you more. One haircut or one pizza purchased with Xspero™ could mean a book for the Birthday Book Project. All you have to do is select it as your preferred charity on the app before you make a purchase.

Cara inspired us at Xspero™, not only to see the best in others but to give of ourselves whenever we can. Help us carry on her vision and give the gift of reading to children all around South Jersey—and maybe, just maybe, help grow this project beyond the borders of our state and into schools all around our nation. 

Browse our blog for merchants near you who accept Xspero™ so you can help pay it forward 20% at a time. Don’t have the Xspero app yet? Download it today from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.