2.52 lakh books collected in the five-day drive

Book-by-book, the wall is finally built, with the number crossing 2.52 lakh as on Thursday, when the five-day book donation drive for underprivileged children concluded. With generous contributions pouring in from different sections, the ‘Aviva Great Wall of Education', presented by The Hindu, at the Express Avenue Mall stands tall and majestic.

Speaking at the valedictory, N.Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, said it was a splendid effort from the people of Chennai to donate for the education of underprivileged children.

“It is not that people have given away what they do not need, rather these are books which are still precious and valuable to them,” he said, referring to titles such as Alice in the Wonderland, Under the Banyan Tree, Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography and works of Shakespeare.

Mr. Ram said queries such as who is going to benefit, how these books are going to be disbursed, the background of children getting these books would be communicated.

Vishal Gupta, Director, Marketing, Aviva India, said the ‘wall' was started in Delhi last year with no book and today it is growing with the privileged and less-privileged doing their bit for a cause.

“We hope to reach out to nearly 50,000 children in the next three years with the help of non-governmental organisations,” he said.

Parting with books that one has grown up with or derived inspiration from is no easy task, but if so many people could donate for a cause then it shows their unflinching spirit. This was the underlying message organisers stressed on the final day of the donation drive, which saw an overwhelming response.

Actor couple Riyaz Khan and Uma Riyaz Khan came along with their son, each of them parting with some of their collection. Carnatic singer Sudha Raghunathan and actor Sivakumar donated books. Remembering to bring books amidst the first-term examinations happening across most schools can be difficult; a few schools such as Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan School, T.P. Road took the cake. Within a day, students of the school collected over 2,000 books. Students of Calibre Academy measured as tall as the books.

Ranjini Devi, Joint Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Amrita Goswami, project coordinator, Save the Children and V. Ranganathan, founder-president, Vidyarambam Trust spoke at the valedictory function.