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Books 2 Smiles is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt Texas non-profit corporation formed 2018 by Mahtab Dastur to distribute books worldwide to children and others who otherwise would not have ready access to them. In July 2020 it filed a Certificate of Formation in Texas to become a Texas non-profit corporation, and in September 2020, the IRS granted Books 2 Smiles’ tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide every child in the world the chance to own and read a book.

Our Story

The Inspiration. Mahtab Dastur was inspired to share books after Hurricane Harvey struck her home in Houston, Texas, on August 25th, 2017. Harvey was the worst hurricane to strike Houston in a century.  Over 100 people were killed and damages to property exceeded $125 billion dollars. Mahtab and her family were four of the 13 million people who were affected. Her family’s single-story home was flooded with four feet of water. Almost all was lost, including Mahtab’s books.

The loss of her books was heart-breaking and caused Mahtab to understand fully the joy that reading provided her. Her loss also made her understand that millions of children never have the chance to hold a book in their hands, to read the book and to slip into another world to escape reality and to experience the adventures that come only through reading.

Mahtab soon decided to make it her mission to make sure every child in the world had a chance to hold and read a book. She contacted Allison Vaughan, her school librarian, to discuss how best to fulfill her mission. Mrs. Vaughan was enthusiastic and they soon developed plans to distribute books to children who needed them. There were many considerations. They needed to determine where they could get their books, where the books would be sent and how they would be shipped. Plus, they needed to figure out how to finance their operation. They put their plans into action and Books 2 Smiles was formed.

Getting Started

The First Mission – Vietnam.  In the spring of 2018Mahtab and Mrs. Vaughan decided that Vietnam was a good candidate for their first mission because there was a need for books and English was a common language spoken there. They partnered with Sunflower Mission, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organizationthat aided youth in Vietnam. They had a group of people going to Vietnam that summer for a school they were building there. Mahtab and Mrs. Vaughan conducted a book drive with all of the schools in their district and received two books from each school. Over 100 books were collected.

Since Vietnam has a highly regulated society, the books had to be vetted to be sure no Vietnamese laws would be broken through the distribution of the donated books. Most of them were picture books or books targeted toward younger grade students because of the worry about their proficiency in English. They decided not to send certain books that would have been innocent in the United States but might have caused problems in Vietnam because of religious or other potentially controversial content.   

After collecting and vetting the books, Mahtab and Mrs. Vaughan delivered them to Sunflower Mission, who transported them a few months later in their luggage.  

The first mission was a success!

The Second Mission – The Bahamas. The Bahamas Mission was especially close to Mahtab’s heart.

In the Fall of 2019Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas, and she decided that after her experience with Hurricane Harvey, she would help provide books to Bahamian children. She and Mrs. Vaughan contacted the Houston office of the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, which arranged a radio interview in which Mahtab and Mrs. Vaughan described the Books 2 Smiles mission and its plan to send books to the Bahamas.

Books 2 Smiles collected over 800 books from Mahtab’s school district. The books were sent to the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, who partnered with Caribbean Cruise Lines to transport the books to the Bahamas and get them in the hands of children who had nothing.

Another success!

Moving Ahead

After these early successes, Mahtab decided that with some planning she could expand her mission by creating a more structured enterprise. In July 2020, Books 2 Smiles was organized a Texas non-profit corporation and soon after that filed to be a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code. Bylaws were adopted and the initial Officers and Directors were appointed. Once all that was set up, Books 2 Smiles began to develop a business plan to collect a larger number of books and distribute them to a larger audience of children.

Getting the Books. We plan to solicit local public and school libraries for donations of books. We also plan to solicit donations from publishing houses, local and national bookstore chains, companies such as Amazon, that may have excess book inventories, and similar companies. Since we are a tax exempt organization, these potential donors will be able to contribute excess inventory and other books that they are willing to provide and take a tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the donated books. We believe that partnering with Books 2 Smiles may offer these entities an attractive alternative to simply offloading books to after-market discount bins.

Distributing the Books. We have approached Federal Express and  UPS to donate the shipping services we will need to ship books to children worldwide. Each of these companies have programs to donate shipping services to tax-exempt entities, and we are hopeful that Books 2 Smiles will receive their support.

Identifying the Recipients of the Books.  We plan to concentrate on delivering books to children who need books in the United States and in countries that have large populations of children who otherwise would not have access to books. We also intend to concentrate on the delivery of books to children in disaster relief areas.

Financing our Operations. We intend to solicit cash donations through personal contacts with persons and entities with whom our founders, officers and directors have relationships. We also intend to seek grants from federal and state agencies and other non-profit entities that have missions that are compatible with ours. In addition, we intend to raise cash donation through fundraising activities such as the sale of merchandise and charity galas.

Cash donations can be sent directly to us or they may be made through our web site at https://books2smiles.org.

            Cash Donations will be used only in Furtherance of our Mission. None of our officers or directors will receive any cash compensation for their services. All of our cash donations will be used in furtherance of collecting and distributing books to children.

Officers and Directors

Set forth below is certain information about our officers and directors. We are a Texas non-profit corporation, and under the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Law, we have no stockholders. Instead, we are managed by a Board of Directors.

Mahtab B. Dastur. is our founder and has served as a Director and our President since our inception. Mahtab has a passion for books. Her, favorite books, and book series include, Harry Potter, Poet X, and Have a little faith.

In her free time, Mahtab enjoys reading, dancing, and annoying her younger brother. When Mahtab grows up her goal is to become the President of the United States. On the way she wants to open her own successful business and become a lawyer and a phycologist.  She hopes Books 2 Smiles becomes a remarkably prosperous non-profit, and that every child has a chance to experience the magic of books.

Allison Vaughan.Mr. Vaughan has served as a Director since 2020. She is the Librarian at Kleb Intermediate School in the Klein Independent School District. This is Mrs. Vaughan’s 26th year in education. She has connected students with books as a librarian for 15 of those years. She also teaches digital citizenship, and research skills in her role as librarian. Mrs. Vaughan helped organize the two book drives Books 2 Smiles has conducted to date. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Deaf Education from Stephen F. Austin State University and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Sam Houston State University. 

Samuel N. Allen. Mr. Allen has been a Director and our General Counsel since August 2020. He has over 35 years of corporate finance and securities law experience. Sam has represented clients in corporate debt and equity financings, corporate restructurings, mergers and acquisitions and proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission. He also assists start-up companies in corporate structure and organizational matters. From 1982 until 1990, he was in the corporate finance section of Brown and Wood (now Sidley & Austin) in New York. From 1990 until 2011, he was a partner in the corporate finance group at Porter Hedges, LLP, in Houston, Texas. While at Porter Hedges, Sam was named as a “Texas Super Lawyer” in corporate finance. He has been in private practice since 2011. Sam is an avid reader, has written several books and has written over 75 blogs about Route 66. He also has donated thousands of books to local libraries, elder care facilities and other organizations with people who might not otherwise have access to books. Sam founded the Deacons of Deadwood Motorcycle Club, which is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity that has donated over $3.5 million to charities benefiting children in the Houston area. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Mississippi and a Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee Law School.