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Observer: The Top 20 Philanthropists Under 40 - Out of Print

 

 

Todd Lawton and Jeff LeBlanc, co-founders of Out of Print Clothing, were born 12 hours apart. “Since early on in our lives, we’ve been fortunate enough to be around family and people who cherish books, and that rubbed off,” said Mr. Lawton, who, like Mr. LeBlanc, is 38. So, in 2009, the childhood friends started the Manhattan-based company that sells T-shirts, tote bags and other accessories featuring classic book covers to sow awareness of an enthusiasm for books. Mr. Lawton and Mr. LeBlanc have shipped products to more than 80 countries, and for every item sold, they donate one book to Books for Africa. According to Messrs. Lawton and LeBlanc, they have given away more than 1.3 million books—ranging from resource textbooks to the Merck Manual of Medical Information—to organizations in more than 20 African countries. “There are millions of people who have no access to books, and for us that was a call out to make a difference,” said Mr. LeBlanc. The social entrepreneurs have also gotten into charitable endeavors closer to home. Last year, they helped raise money to create a scanning system for a library in a public school in Queens. “Ultimately,” Mr. LeBlanc said, “our belief is that books change lives.”

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