We are entering into the season when many people start thinking about the ways that they can give back to their local communities. Some of these gifts, however, end up being much larger than others.
Earlier this year the Waukegan Public Library, located just north of Chicago, received a $100,000 gift from a local woman named Helen Morrow. Morrow had been a high school teacher at the New Trier Township High School for over 40 years and was dedicated to improving literacy and education. When she died, she wanted some of her work to continue, so she donated money to a library that she loved.
In particular, the library will use the money to support its Adult Literary Tutoring program, which matches adult readers with volunteers who help them improve reading, writing, and math skills. This type of education can ensure that people continue to live independent lives and are empowered by their own abilities.
Verna Wilson, the library foundation president, told the Lake County News-Sun that “This gift will help the foundation’s vision to change the trajectory of our citizens in this community; to let them know that literacy is the way out of poverty.”
I certainly can’t afford to give a similar type of gift to my local library – and frankly I’m surprised that a high school teach could afford it – but I am glad to see that people still appreciate what libraries can offer. If you are looking for places to give this season, I suggest you explore what needs your local library has. Typically nonprofits and other organizations allow people to earmark their gifts, so if you would like your money to go towards an existing literacy program, the acquisition of children’s books, or something else entirely, the library may be able to make that happen.
If you have heard of other great community programs put on by libraries, let me know. As a child, I participated in my hometown library’s summer reading program, but I know libraries do even more for the people they support. Besides, it might give me a few ideas for how I can give back to my library; it has certainly provided for me over the years.