Mothers from Eugene, Ore., delivered an early Christmas present to the Wailuku Public Library on Wednesday.
When acting Children's Librarian Ken Murray arrived in the morning, he was greeted by four large boxes filled with books.
"It was a great surprise," said Murray. "There were over a hundred books, and they were in excellent condition. We hold our Keiki Storytime program every Wednesday so I unboxed and displayed them for the children and parents. We were surprised it came all the way from the Mainland."
Tiffany Eckert and son Shaun represented a group of mothers who donated more than 100 books from Eugene, Ore., on Wednesday. The Eckert family celebrated the book donation with around 30 children and parents at the Wailuku Public Library. Acting Children’s Librarian Ken Murray coordinated the donation.
Wailuku Public Library photo
One of the Eugene mothers, Tiffany Eckert, was present for the book donation event.
"It was really sweet," said Eckert. "It's a gorgeous and wonderful library. This book drive means something to us, and I think it means something to the parents and kids."
The idea for the book drive came one evening, when Eckert and a group of mothers got together.
"I told my friend, Erica, that I love coming to Maui every year, but I felt that I wasn't giving anything back," said Eckert, who has one son and works as a reporter for NPR KLCC in Eugene.
Erica O'Grady also has one son, and she works as a library technician at the University of Oregon's Knight Library. Naturally, O'Grady suggested donating books to a library.
"That's when I said, 'How about the Wailuku Library?' " recalled O'Grady, who was born and raised on Maui before moving to Oregon. "So we called some mothers, met with groups, and told them what we wanted to do."
The mothers gathered the books over the course of two weeks and kept them at a home before shipping them to Maui. Eckert said that the women timed the shipment to coincide with her vacation, so she could present them to the library and community.
However, they shipped the books to their friend and fellow mother Liyan Medeiros.
Medeiros is a Maui native and has four children who frequently use the library. Medeiros said that she attended Wailuku Elementary with O'Grady, and they have been best friends ever since.
"After school, we would always go to the library," said Medeiros. "It's always been a safe place. We would spend hours and hours there reading; you could just lose yourself."
O'Grady said that she moved to Oregon 25 years ago and although she has not been to the library in several years, it had a tremendous impact on her.
"I didn't grow up rich, in any way," said O'Grady. "That library had an impact on me, and when I think back, that's where my love for books started. The library was something bigger than Wailuku."
Eckert and O'Grady said the book drive was the first of many, and they hope Eugene and Wailuku can become "sister cities."
"We wanted families in Maui to know that people from the Mainland care about them," said Eckert. "We wanted to help children have a greater love for reading so we gave them an early Christmas present."
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.