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Books of Generosity: St. Michael Parent Leads Effort to Collect 2,684 Books for Chicago School

St. Michael Parish School and Madison Elementary School lead a grassroots book collection for Chicago school.

Two childhood friends recently joined forces to help fill the bookshelves at a Chicago school in need.

Led by Nora O'Hare, a parent volunteer, the project led to a collection of 2,684 gently used books to be delivered St. Ethelreda School in Chicago later this month.

O'Hare's friend—the St. Ethelreda school librarian—Nancy Johnson, recently told O'Hare about the dismal supply of books in her library.

“I was in awe of her dedication and enthusiasm for the students of St. Ethelreda,” O’Hare said. “It didn't take long to feel her passion to inspire them through books. All she seemed to lack were the resources. She mentioned that book repairs were a never ending job, shelves were mostly empty with very few hardcover or current books, and she couldn't keep up with some of the students' desires to read more.”

O’Hare and Johnson have known each other since first grade at St. Bernadette in Evergreen Park, IL. After mentioning her friend's situation to a few friends and neighbors, O'Hare said she "instantly knew that the hidden resources could lie in the generosity of our community."

O’Hare received tremendous support from the Principal, Marcia Opal and Librarian, Lisa Palasek at St. Michael School, as well as the students who made signs and posted throughout the school. Teachers, staff and St. Michael families responded with an overwhelming display of generosity by their book donations.

Word travelled quickly and many friends in the community responded by dropping off books. One of O'Hare's her friends was the PTA president at Madison School—which joined St. Michael in the book collection on Apr. 9.

“St. Ethelreda has no church, no gym, no cafeteria and no playground. Although we couldn't change that, we were able to support their library by filling their shelves with books and some hearts with love," O'Hare said. "It is gratifying to see the St. Michael community, as well as many others from the Wheaton community recognize the value of reading and supporting the need for those less fortunate than us through their generosity.”

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