SANDY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – In the age of technology there’s an overabundance of cell phones and video games. But, all one Sandy boy wanted was a book to read. After an encounter with a US postal worker and a post on Facebook he was soon flooded with dozens of books.
Today we caught up with Mathew Flores, a quiet pre-teen who loves to play soccer. His passion is reading books.
“It’s like you’re watching a movie, but you’re making it up in your head,” he said.
Mathew tells us he loves to read because he can imagine the stories in his head, he likes to pick a character in the book and pretend to be them, and also because he says it’ll make him smarter, something he doesn’t believe video games do.
On this day, Mathew is quiet, shy, probably because of the camera we were carrying around, but he’s very thankful for the incredible outpouring of support from the community and the world.
His mother, tells us that she is shocked – very shocked – but very proud of her son.
His quest for a book began on July 23, when a UPS carrier named Ron Lynch ran into Mathew at his apartment complex in Sandy.
Lynch says he was filling in for someone and that Mathew’s apartment complex wasn’t in his usual route. That day he saw Mathew sitting around the mailboxes reading advertisements. Mathew then approached Lynch, and asked him if he had any ads that he could have to read. Lynch, recalls asking the young boy how many books he had at hishouse, to which Mathew replied “zero.”
“I use to read mail, I didn’t have any books at all,” he says.
Mathew left before returning with his mother a short while later, it was at that moment that Lynch got an idea. With the permission of Mathew’s mom, he took a picture of Mathew and posted it on his Facebook for his friends. He was hoping a few of his friends would send Mathew some books for him to read. He never imagined it would become a viral sensation.
“A lot of kids want electronics, things like that, this young man just wanted to read. That touched my heart,” said Lynch.
Within a day the books began pouring in. The next day they doubled and his collection continued to grow. People from all over the world were sending his family books for him and his sister to read.
A cabinet his family used to store dishes in the kitchen was turned into his “library,” and not long after, it was completely full. He began storing his books in the closet. When we met Mathew, there were piles of boxes in his room full of books, and after a few minutes speaking with him, there was a knock on the door and an even bigger delivery of books from the post office.
He has received copies of the classics like Moby Dick and Huckleberry Fin, and received the full Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, among several others. But his favorites are the Captain Underpants and Bad Kitty books, of which he has finished them all.
Mathew says he appreciates the good people have done for him, and he never imagined that such people existed in the world. His message to those who have bought him a book is a big “thank you,” and he calls Lynch an angel for everything he did for him.
The kindness he has seen has motivated him to give back. He plans to send some copies to his cousins in Mexico, where books are hard to come by. He also hopes to donate some to children who are just like him and have no access to books. This gesture, is something Lynch hopes will inspire others around the world to do the same, and find those kids just like Mathew in their communities.
“There’s a Mathew in every neighborhood, every city, every state, every country, in the world,” he says.
But for now, Mathew is going to enjoy spending his summer reading his new collection, which has reached well over 100 books. He also plans to share them with his friends, who have already asked to borrow a book or two.