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Brothers Helping Others during Pandemic

In a time of social distancing, two brothers, Chase and Zach Hartman, aren't letting this pandemic get in the way of their volunteer service activities. They’re finding new ways they can help. The boys founded a non-profit called Eco Brothers, Inc. to help the planet and its people and they’re hard at work sorting books for local kids and sewing pet toys for animal shelters.

“We got an email last week from our local United Way requesting books,” said Chase, 14. “Many kids in the area are struggling, suffering from food shortages and are also doing their class work at home since the schools in our state are closed. The organization asked us to deliver the books to the YMCA in Downtown Tampa.”

The books will be passed out during weekly food distribution events and also given to kids in the adjoining day care facility, which is still open at this time.

“We dropped off 500 books before the Safer-At-Home request was issued for our county, but we have a storage unit filled with thousands, so we are ready when the requests come in and we can leave the house again,” said Zach, 10.

Research shows that only 1 in 300 kids in struggling areas own their own books and kids who own books do better in school. The boys are committed to helping these kids who need it the most.

“Books provide a wonderful escape from reality” said Chase. “Kids, now, definitely need a distraction from the news and challenges in their new schedules. Many kids are worried about their home life and their next meal. We’re hoping they can escape into the plot of a good book and it can bring happiness.”

Until recently the boys have worked independently on their community service projects. Chase, a Gold Level recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, first started a book collection project when he was 10 with his best friend and ended up collecting and distributing over 120,000 books and raised $58,000 to purchase books for the local school system.

His little brother, Zach, has also been hard at work in his community focusing on ways to save the planet through recycling, reuse and upcycling. He teamed up with a nonprofit called Glad Dogs Nation, upcycling used stuffed animals and turned them into pet toys for animals in shelters. This non-profit collects gently used stuffed animals, disinfects them and removes the eyes and other choking hazards. They then slice an opening in each toy, package it up and send it to volunteers wanting to help. Each kit contains all the thread and needles too. (

“We've been spending a lot of quality time sewing pet toys out of used stuffed animals” said Zach. “We insert a squeaker into the stuffed animal and sew it back up. It’s fun. We get to talk, craft and make a difference!”

The boys plan to construct hundreds of pet toys during their time at home. Zach recently received the national Citizen of the Year award from Glad Dogs Nation for his efforts in constructing more than 2700 toys for shelters in 19 states.

The boys say right now is the perfect time to help animal shelters. Shelters and pet rescues are struggling during the pandemic. Most are closed to the public and therefor are filling up to full capacity. The boys are doing what they can to give them support.

To find out more about the volunteer efforts by Chase and Zach follow their independent projects @readrepeat and @zachsplanet on Facebook.


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