The idea wasn't complicated.
Shirley Dawkins voiced a need. We saw an opportunity to fill it. The people of Columbia County responded.
Boy, did they ever.
On Wednesday, with many helping hands from office staff here at The News-Times, we loaded more than 60 boxes of books from our lobby into three vehicles for the trip to the Lincoln County Library.
Dawkins, that library's director, three weeks earlier had written a letter to the editor of The Chronicle lamenting the state's cut to their book-buying budget.
The money they'll get this year amounts to roughly 20 cents per resident of the county. If not for donations of books, the library's situation would be nearly hopeless, Dawkins said.
Well, we couldn't have that. So I told my kind and generous readers if they'd donate books and bring them here, I'd be happy to haul them to Lincolnton.
Dawkins soon started receiving direct donations; several of our residents drove to the town to take her books and money.
Most of the donations, though, came to our office. They were phenomenal.
Those donations included two visits from Jeannie Sinko-Nelson, of Grovetown. She not only brought checks with each trip, but also a collection of World War II books that had belonged to her late husband, Charles Nelson.
They included two visits from the Woo sisters, Donna and Deborah, of Augusta. They brought stacks of their own books the first time, and on the second trip brought books donated by their Grace Sunday School class at First Baptist Church of Augusta.
The donations included an ingeniously creative check from Wilma Wade, who found that Dawkins was visiting Columbia County's library for a conference. Wade made out the check to Friends of Columbia County Libraries, and Dawkins used the money as a credit toward buying books from the Friends store. Columbia County's library got a donation of money, while Dawkins got great books for free.
I knew some of the donors, like Tom Werner, Chris Noah, Karen Chrjapin, Joann Gray, Michele Young, the Simons family, and John and Nancy Fetter. And Riverman.
But most were people I met for the first time when they brought in their boxes and bags of books.
People like Bob Ross, and Lee Reynolds, and the Coddingtons (who dropped off two batches of books), and Debbie Myers (who is just moving to the county from Augusta).
They also included Mary Hollands, Betty Long, Nita and Travis Doss, and Jean Groupman, of Martinez; Joy Coffman, David Myers, and Jeff and Kathy Gingera, of Evans; Belinda Krueger, Robin Mansfield and Diane Brodeur, of Grovetown, and Mary Hagen, of Augusta.
There were a couple of donors whose names we missed, and some who wanted to remain anonymous. And I have to include my coworkers: Suzanne Liverett, Valerie Rowell and her mom, Rob Pavey and Donnie Fetter, and I suspect Bill Kirby, who dropped off books, didn't complain about the temporary mess in the lobby and then helped with loading them up.
To all of them: Thank you. I truly wish I could share the excited hug I received from an appreciative librarian, and could take you along on her proud-mama tour of that library. Please know that she deeply appreciates your help.
None of what I do, not a bit of it, is possible without the written word. So cultivating and enabling readers is among the most important things I can do. The wonderful folks who each week indulge me by reading what I write will always have my eternal gratitude, and those who take the additional step of responding - for good or ill - are especially valuable.
If your travels ever take you on the pleasant trip to Lincolnton, just go straight out Washington Road, take a right at the first light and look for the library on the left. Tell Mrs. Dawkins her neighbors said hello.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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