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Kids from Loving Library stand in front of Waymo vehicle

Mission-Driven: Kids Team up With Waymo to Expand Access to Books in Phoenix

One sunny day in South Scottsdale, the students at Hirsch Academy walked outside to find an incredible surprise. A group of fellow elementary-aged children from another school had brought them boxes of books, coloring books and new shoes to call their own. The curiosity on their young faces quickly turned into ear-to-ear smiles when they saw the books being unloaded from the back of a Waymo vehicle. 

For these Hirsch Academy students, where about a third of them lack stable housing and half are learning English as a second language, the delivery represented an escape from worry. 

“I love to see the kids smile and just have that pure joy and to know that they are not worrying about anything else other than just that moment of absolute happiness,” said Gina Disipio, Principal of Hirsch Academy, which is an ‘A’-Rated, free charter school. 

Despite the challenges the students at Hirsch Academy may face, Disipio said the school supports all learners and provides them with a strong academic program.

The surprise book and shoe delivery was the brainchild of Loving Library, a nonprofit founded by children, whose mission is to inspire youth to improve the mental health and well-being of kids in need with books, Waymo donated rides to Loving Library to help accomplish a shared mission: building community and safely transporting people and things where they need to go. Phoenix shoes stores Manor and Secured Sneakers both donated shoes. 

“My favorite part about today was seeing the reactions,” said Jovin, a Phoenix 9-year-old who founded the Loving Library with his brother, Anaik, during the pandemic to help fight loneliness and isolation through the power of reading. Donations have expanded to include necessities like shoes. 

“One kid walked up to me and they were like, ‘These are the shoes of my dreams’," Jovin recalled. 

Jovin – together with four other elementary-school-aged Loving Library volunteers (called “ambassadors” by the nonprofit) named Anna, Deven, Sam, and Jack – pitched in to make the delivery. They agreed that the highlight of the day was seeing the Hirsch Academy students’ reactions.

“I saw their reactions and I saw the smiles on their faces,” Anna shared. “Everybody needs shoes and books.”

All of the students enjoyed taking pictures with the Waymo delivery vehicle, which was parked outside the school. Jovin, Anna, Deven, Sam and Jack rode with Waymo to bring the delivery to Hirsch Academy. 

“All I can say is that it was beyond exciting,” Jovin said. “I feel safer in a Waymo than my mom driving.”

Riders under age 18 need an adult rider with them on their trip, so Jack’s mother came along too. He said he enjoyed chatting with her without having to worry about traffic.

“It was really smooth and it always had the exact speed limit, so I felt really safe in it,” Jack recalled. 

Anna said she enjoyed seeing how the technology worked.

“I liked how we could control the music from the back and that on the screen it also shows that it senses anything: motorcycles, lanes in the road, cars, fire hydrants on the side of the road, anything,” Anna shared.

“I thought the ride was amazing, especially when we could see on the screen where the car was and all its surroundings with every little detail,” said Deven.

“The fact that the Waymo can see three football fields ahead of you and it can even sense traffic cones and a red light, it's just amazing,” Sam said. “It felt very safe.”

Loving Library already has 13 chapters in the US and 10 worldwide, and Jovin said his goal is to keep expanding.

“My dream for the Loving Library is to have one chapter in every country of the world,” Jovin shared, adding that the students value and appreciate all the community support for their mission.

Seven-year-old Anna said she planned to tell other first-graders at her school that she rode in an autonomously driven Waymo vehicle to go volunteer, but she wasn’t sure they would believe her.

“I'm going to tell them that I rode in a Waymo car that drives itself and they're probably not going to believe me,” Anna mused. “Well, the future is now.”

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