Mayana Lifchitz, 19, and her father, Yosef, started "Books 4 Cause" in 2009 after seeing textbooks thrown away after just one year of use.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of books have been donated to the cause, which now fills 110 libraries in Africa. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, they knew the need would grow here too.
The father of five opened a free library in Avondale on North Milwaukee Avenue. With 1,000 books inside, every book is completely free.
“What reading does is provide education. That education lengthens lives,” said founder Yosef Lifchitz.
The store is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“It might seem really simple, but the escapism it provides is incredible. You can really turn someone’s life around just by giving them a free book,” said Mayana Lifchitz.
With plans to open other free libraries on the South and West sides of Chicago, Books 4 Cause is also helping to fill empty storefronts hit hard by the pandemic.
“We can pop in for a week and if you need us to leave to rent the space, we’ll be out,” Lifchitz said. “All books have an opportunity to be in someone’s hand.”
If you would like to donate a book or learn more about visiting the free library, click here.