Boulder, Colo. – It’s giving season once again. All season long, D1A rugby players have been delivering big hits, and long tries as they try to give their side a shot at the National Championship in May, but one Michigan rugby player has been giving in a special way off of the pitch.
Sophomore back David Caputo has been collecting and distributing used children’s books since 2011. When looking for a way to volunteer, Caputo came across a surprising statistic, 61% of low-income families in the US have no books in their home for their school-aged children. There was a need, and Caputo realized he could help. Setting up a donation box at his church, he quickly collected 1,500 used books which were donated to low-income programs throughout the Topsfield, Mass. area.
Caputo didn’t stop there. He set up more book collection locations throughout his town, including the preschool his mom worked at, and his high school. Since Caputo first started collecting books, Literacy Link has collected and distributed around 5,500 books for underprivileged kids.
“The organizations that receive our books provide all of the motivation in the world,” said Caputo. “Every year I get letters from kids of all ages thanking me and my family for a book that they’ve been looking for forever.
“It’s easy to take things for granted, and if I can provide even one smile to a kid in need somewhere then everything we’ve done is worth it. We see the results first hand from the different organizations like Girls INC. who can’t thank us enough for all the work that goes into this operation.”
Now that Caputo is 800 miles from home, where he set up Literacy Link, he has passed on the brunt of the operation to his sister and mom. He will set up logistics, while his sister, a senior in high school, does a majority of the collection and sorting of donated books.
The original goal of Literacy Link was to establish collection points throughout towns in Massachusetts, but that goal was accomplished when Caputo expanded the collection to his high school. Now, the plan is to grow collection to both Michigan and the college Caputo’s sister plans to attend.
“I have spoken to a few different similar operations at the university about how they conduct their business and the possibility of expanding to U of M and possibly donating the books to the Detroit area,” said Caputo.
In 2012, while visiting the Dominican Republic on a school trip, Caputo attended an orphanage that also lacked in books and toys for their kids. Caputo was able to contribute with donated coloring books to the kids at the orphanage.
“The biggest recipient of our books is GIRLS, Inc. located in Lynn, Mass., which is a very rough town outside of Boston,” said Caputo. “Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization which relies heavily on our donations.
“When I personally go and drop the books off, all of the little girls are dying to go through the boxes and the looks on their faces is the motivation that keeps Literacy Link going. I look forward to sorting through the books we have recently collected and bringing them to these girls in a few weeks. These books are used to inspire the next generation of strong women. Knowing that I am able to give these children books brings me great joy.”
Caputo uses his great character throughout his life, and his charitable side is only a small part of that. He is a Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience Major at Michigan, and is a member of the top 23 players for Michigan Rugby. Caputo made two starts during the fall season, and continues to contribute to the Michigan rugby program, which finished fourth in the Big Ten this season.
“David is a great team man and a natural leader who brings it when he is on the field,” said Michigan Head Coach Brandon Sparks. “He is remarkably mature for his age and it shows how he conducts himself. We are looking forward to seeing what he does during the sevens season.”