CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Remember all those books that readers donated during the winter for The Charleston Gazette's Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive? They continue to make their way into the hands of children. Thank-you notes are making their way back.
Around Easter, the Gazette received photos of children who attend the 21st Century "Accent Education" Community Learning Center After-School Program in Beards Fork. In the photos, children are choosing and reading books and signing a message of thanks.
Last week, the Gazette received another half-dozen cards from children in Kanawha, Putnam and Logan counties.
"I love the books you donated!" writes one. "I love to read and I found several different types of books in there that were interesting."
"We gratefully appreciate your generous donation," reads another card, unsigned.
"I never thought I could love books this much," writes Michael.
"It's fantastic," said Gazette Publisher Elizabeth E. Chilton, who created the book drive to help put more books in the hands of children.
"Over 10,000 books to be shared with our fellow West Virginians. It shows the generosity of people, that they care for others and that they want to share their good fortune," she said.
The book drive gave people a chance to clear their own shelves of books their families have outgrown, and to send those books to children who can enjoy them and learn from them.
Children's Home Society of West Virginia and Read Aloud West Virginia continue to distribute books through a network of dozens of organizations and programs that reach children.
For example, books went to children enrolled in a child-care center that caters to low-income families, said Mary White, chief operating officer of Children's Home Society.
Parents of children there work minimum-wage jobs, sometimes more than one. Many struggle to keep growing children in clothes, let alone anything else, White said.
"They were absolutely thrilled to have those books," White said.