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Take a book, leave a book

The Elba community now has three locations to swap books. Books for all ages can be found in the Book Swap boxes at Tiger Town Park, Marrow Village and Kendrick Apartments. Simply take a book and leave a book.

Laurie Chapman, executive director of Restoration154, worked with me to bring the book swap idea to Elba this summer. We wanted to have a way for children and their families to have access to free books anytime they wanted.

I got started on this project by first asking my grandparents, Ray and Paula Howell, to help me build the boxes. They are excellent craftsmen, and I knew they would be perfect for this task.

Continuing with the logistics, we decided to ask Rhonda Brunson to help maintain the Book Swap after my summer in Elba ends. Brunson quickly agreed to oversee the project.  She said, “The best gift you can give a child is the gift of reading. The Book Swap will be a great addition to the community.”

We next started asking community members to donate books to fill the Book Swaps, and they did not disappoint.  We received plenty of books to fill all three Book Swaps.  I appreciate the giving spirit of the book donors so much.

Once we got the first Book Swap built and painted, we continued to involve the community by asking children who attended Rockin’ the River Art Camp to help us decorate to outside of the box.  They did a superb job painting and bringing their own creativity to the wooden box.

After discussing the placement with Mayor Mickey Murdock, we decided to place the first Book Swap box in Tiger Town Park. This provides easy access and is convenient for families visiting the park.

Justin Maddox, co-founder of Restoration154, helped Chapman and I install the Book Swap. It took a group effort to dig a 2-foot hole and pour cement to hold it in place.

We were all excited to have the first Book Swap up and filled with books. Since it opened three weeks ago, the first books have been swapped and replaced with new ones.

Lynn Corder, a former teacher in Elba City Schools, explained how she thought the Books Swap provides a special opportunity for families.  “Books are a wonderful way to have a special bond with a child. A love for reading should passed down through fun times exploring the pages of a book, and this project is helping provide that opportunity,” Corder said.

The next step for the project was building and painting two more Book Swap boxes. Once those were finished, we went about the same routine to place the boxes near community rooms at Morrow Village and Kendrick Apartments.

Now we are planning a painting party for children to decorate the new boxes in their neighborhood. We are looking forward to getting the kids involved in this project.

I was blessed to a part of this and hope that the Book Swaps serve all ages in Elba. I would like to thank everyone who helped. I especially want to thank my grandparents, Restoration154, the Elba Housing Authority and Rhonda Brunson.