Leigh and her entire family have been involved with Books for Keeps since our very first book distribution… before we even had a name. They’ve contributed everything from books and funds to lumber for shelving and aprons for this year’s distributions. Was it worth a vacation day for Leigh to work one of our book distributions? She’ll tell you herself.

I have always wanted to be a Sea Turtle Lady. You know, live on a South Carolina beach, walking the shoreline in the early mornings searching for turtle tracks and checking the nests. But no more. Nope. Done. I am now a Books for Keeps Lady.

I have been around since the inception of Books for Keeps but due to my work schedule, usually offer financial support more so than time. Last Thursday though, I took a day away from the office and attended the Stroud Elementary school distribution.

Wow – all I can say is Wow.

Melaney had warned me that I might get emotional, that the children were amazing and how it had changed her life. It was all that and more. (I mean, I am almost giving up my dream of living on a low country beach…..)

I am not sure what impresses me more – the dedicated and receptive staff and teachers of Stroud, or the exuberance of a media specialist that renews and reminds me of why I have always loved the library. All of this before even the first child arrives through the door.

I donned a BFK apron – and was immediately transformed into, dare I say “rock star” status? I have never worn a Santa suit – but wow – I think I know the feeling now. Adoration – sweet unconditional adoration. The students had been advised of what was going to happen – and they were beyond excited. Small faces peeked through the windows and revealed wide eyes and bright smiles.

The generous donation from the Kenneth and Mildred Gammons Foundation allowed each student to receive a cotton tote bag to hold their books and this put their enthusiasm over the top. As one child announced “This is like shopping!”

Then they were off – perusing the tables, searching, finding, conversing, comparing. These children love books. They were thrilled to have choices. I got to participate in the search and don’t know if I could have been more excited to find an elusive Pokeman book for an eager fan if I had written it myself! And I have to tell you, the selection that numerous donors contributed did not disappoint. The quality and quantity of books donated is astounding!

After 12 selections were made, the children eagerly discussed their choices with the volunteers. The excitement in owning 12 new titles was palpable – but the love in the faces of these children and the anticipation of reading was the most motivating factor in my decision to say bye bye turtles.

I won’t wax poetic about the parallels between the importance of fostering literacy achievement to end summer slide and protecting an endangered species. But I will tell you that if you want a lot of bang for your buck and instant gratification in your own neighborhood, then come with me next year and put on a BFK apron. There are many opportunities to help and we need you. It’s not turtles, but I promise you will not be disappointed.