Steamboat group collecting storybooks for African Library Project

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If you go

What: Bake sale to benefit local Africa Library Project

When: 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 26

Where: In front of City Market in Central Park Plaza

Get involved

Child and young adult books for the Lesotho school can be left in bins at Excel Gymnastics or in the children’s Story-time Room at Bud Werner Memorial Library. For more information, call 970-879-8809 or visit www.africanlibraryproject.org and click on “Book drives in action.”

— Halfway across the world, there’s a small school in Lesotho filled with more than 150 children in preschool to fourth grade. They have no heat in their building, although nearby mountains are capped with snow.

They have joyous smiles and an eagerness to learn, said Steamboat Homeschool Group mother Laurin Cook, but they are missing vital tools.

Through an e-mail from Rusty de Lucia, a Steamboat Springs native stationed with the Peace Corps in the African country of Lesotho, Cook learned about the conditions at the school where de Lucia works.

They only have a few books, she said, tucked away in a back room on a dusty shelf, off-limits to the children to keep from ruining the precious resources.

Because of the abundance of literacy in Steamboat, Cook was eager to take on organizing a book drive through African Library Project. The organization pairs schools in Africa with sponsors to ship books overseas.

“From our kids’ perspective, our world is brimming with books,” Cook said. “There are books everywhere. We go to the library every day. We’re very blessed in Steamboat with a state-of-the-art library. And if we can’t find something here, they can order it for us.”

She said the home-schooled students have eagerly taken on the project after learning about the lack of books in the school.

The older children are responsible for organizing a bake sale to raise the $500 needed to ship the books to Africa. The sale is 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 26 outside of City Market.

The rest is up to the community.

Donation bins are set up at Bud Werner Memorial Library in the Story-time Room and in the lobby of Excel Gymnastics.

Youth Services Librarian Sarah Kostin helped Cook set up the bin display, which is complete with pictures de Lucia has taken in the year she’s been in Africa.

“It definitely meets our value system and our goals here at the library, which are to support literacy and make people connected to other cultures,” Kostin said about the book drive.

She said she admired the network of Steamboat residents that led to the drive, which aims to raise 1,000 books for children and young adults.

“It’s a very Steamboat thing,” Kostin said.

Cook said it meant a lot to the home-schooled students to be involved with the project.

“This is something our kids can really connect with and be passionate about,” Cook said. “The most amazing thing is to watch their kids or my kids go through our own shelves and find old favorites like ‘Cat in the Hat.’ They usually read them again then carefully place them in the donation box. It’s almost like sending an old friend to a new friend.”

In her house, she said there were three copies of “Cat in the Hat,” and she’s sure many households in the area have extra children’s books they can part with.

The program also will accept student dictionaries and atlases printed after 1990.

“Something we take for granted in our lives can make such a huge difference for these kids,” Cook said. “If you teach these kids to read, you give them the world.”

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