Kayla Keith was at story time at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries last summer when the idea first struck her.
The theme for that month’s event was “Helping others,” and Kayla, a Girl Scout, started to think ahead to her next community service project.
The 6-year old turned to her mother, Jolene, and asked, “Why can’t we give books back to the library?”
“We can,” Jolene replied, not knowing at the time how the project would snowball into a regional effort to give back to the local library.
On Thursday afternoon, Jolene, Kayla and other local Girl Scout troops from across Moffat County gathered at the library to present 75 new children’s books to library program coordinator Christy Gonzales.
About 100 girls were involved in buying the books from their school book fairs with funds they raised by selling nuts in the summer.
“We thought it would be a perfect way to help the community,” Jolene said. “This way everyone can benefit from it. It doesn’t just help one kind of person. Everyone can go to the library and read.”
Jolene said one of her neighbors donated a few books, even though they weren’t Girl Scouts.
Her mother, who lives 1,800 miles away in Washington, is a teacher and had her students send several new books, as well.
Gonzales said she was touched when she first heard the idea and later shocked when she heard what one 6-year-old’s idea had created.
“I thought it was going to be like 15 or 20 books,” she said. “I was floored when she told me how many it was.
“We usually order books, but with budget constraints, sometimes we can only get one or two copies of certain titles, and the waiting lists get really long.”
She said she was excited to see what books they had brought, because the girls had picked each one out themselves.
She was hoping to get a better sense of what young girls were interested in reading and also get a few repeat titles for popular books.
Kneeling in front of three canvas bags overflowing with books, she pulled out one shiny hardcover as a group of Girl Scouts looked on with pride.
“Oh, this is my favorite,” she said, tracing her finger over the title of “Where the Wild Things Are.” “This is all so nice for you to do for your library. There are so many kids and parents who are going to be so excited to check these books out.”
Jolene said she wasn’t surprised by the girls’ initiative because they always find ways to give back to their community.
Kayla has been a regular at story time, and Jolene once attended the monthly reading groups, as well.
“The library has always been really important to us,” Jolene said. “They do a good job of making the children feel safe and welcome.”
For Gonzales, who also attended story time as a child, the donation was validation of the time and energy she puts into children’s programs at the library.
“It kind of took my breath away that a few small girls started this chain reaction,” she said. “To know that they value the library to that extent is huge. And, it’s nice for them to see that they’re making a difference.”
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.