Donation of 1,000 books from Tri-Cities arrives at eastern Kentucky schools to help schools hit by floods

On Monday, a Johnson City woman joined people across the country in donating books to bring a small sense of normalcy back to the community.

WHITESBURG, Ky. — A viral call to action from a bestselling Kentucky author has overwhelmed schools hit by catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky. On Monday, a Johnson City woman joined people across the country in donating books to bring a small sense of normalcy back to the community.

It was all hugs when Megan Tewell arrived with a truck full of books at the Letcher County School Board, helping to replace three school libraries destroyed by flooding.

“It’s easy, I think, to look the other way and assume that other folks are going to do something,” Tewell said. “But to be able to contribute in a meaningful way and to see that turn into something, that’s really special.”

Tewell collected donations at the Heritage Alliance in Jonesborough for six weeks. She estimates about 1,000 books were donated, including some by local libraries.

“We anticipated something really small, and our community was really overwhelmed with their generosity,” she said.

It started with the viral call to action from bestselling Kentucky author Kim Michele Richardson. Those schools are now getting donations multiple times a day. Postal workers even have to make more than one stop some days.

“It’s been overwhelming,” superintendent Denise Yonts said. “It’s been humbling as well to know that there are so many people in this world who care about us and care about our kids to send books to put in their hands or to send money to help rebuild our libraries. We’ve had so many people be so good to us.”

The school system is so overwhelmed with book donations, they needed to get five large storage containers in order to hold them.

“We have enough books to redo our libraries, to work with our teachers to put books in their classroom libraries, and to put books in the hands of our children,” Yonts said.

The insides of those school libraries are completely gutted.

Yonts is no longer asking for books but instead for money to help the 1,400 families in her schools still displaced.

“Our students who have lost their books at home and have lost their homes and all of their belongings, they’re so grateful. They’re happy to be getting anything that’s normal to them or reminds them of their home,” she said.

This story was originally reported by WCYB.

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