GOSHEN COUNTY – Charitable groups and non-profit organizations host fundraisers all the time.
Locally, one of the most popular is the Goshen County Library Foundation book sales, which typically take place three times a year. But this year, due to the ongoing restrictions imposed on people and gatherings, the spring iteration of the book sale has been postponed.
One Goshen County family who wished to remain anonymous didn’t want to see all those books languishing on shelves. They stepped to the fore, purchasing scores of puzzles and some of the children’s books that would normally be available during the spring sale – which should be running now - to get them out of their confinement in the Library Annex.
And those books will be offered, free to families, during a special give away event at the Annex on East A Street in Torrington. The giveaway is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, April 23), or as long as there are items available to be given away, said Nan Hornbeck, secretary of the Goshen County Library Foundation.
“We had an anonymous donor pay for all the puzzles and all the elementary and middle school books-on-tape,” Hornbeck said. “I need to specify, these books are on cassette tapes, because that may make a difference to some families.
“These people wanted these to be out there in the community for people who are at home and may need some new activities,” she said. Families are “trying to teach their children and grandchildren. Hopefully, these can be of some use.”
On Thursday, Foundation members will set up tables on the sidewalk in front of the Activity Center, with tape or chalk demarcating where people can stand to look through the books and puzzles. One of the parking lots, either to the north or south of the Activity Center will be set aside for families to wait. They will be called up to take their turn at the tables as spaces become available.
“We want to be sure people try to bring as few people as possible,” Hornbeck said. “But some people don’t have daycare and you do want the child to choose the book or at least have some input. Hopefully everyone will use good common sense.”
The books are divided by age group: 57 books-on-tape for elementary-age children and 29 for middle school students. While the middle school books are only on tape, the elementary school items actually come in two parts – a regular, printed book with an accompanying cassette of someone reading the story, complete with cues to prompt children when it’s time to turn the page, Hornbeck said.
Most of the books-on-tape are non-fiction, with a smattering of educational topics thrown in – a journey through the Grand Canyon or details of the creatures of the sea, Hornbeck said. Those would be classified more as “learning entertainment.”
“It would be an independent learning experience,” she said. “If they have the cassette player – and that’s going to be key here, because those aren’t commonplace in every household – (the children) can sit there and look through the picture book and listen along to the story.”
The puzzles – 96 of them will be available – are designed for all age groups, ranging in size from 200 pieces to 1,500 pieces, Hornbeck said. Puzzles can be a fun activity families can work on together, she said, which made including them in the giveaway an easy decision.
“We have a plethora of puzzles,” Hornbeck said. “That’s probably the most puzzles we’ve ever had for any book sale. It’s a pleasure to be able to give those away.
“I know a lot of people who are working on puzzles right now that you wouldn’t ordinarily think. It’s a great family thing to do. If you have the place to have it set up, people can walk by and work on it. It’s a good diversion right now.”
Several of the puzzles available have never been opened, so the Foundation can almost guarantee all the pieces will be there. Those probably came from people who were cleaning out estates, for example, and found the unused puzzles in storage.
But, with puzzles that have been opened, they’re unable to give any guarantees, Hornbeck said. But they always hope for the best.
“Sometimes people, when they donate them, will write on them, ‘all pieces are there,’” she said. “But we just packed up a puzzle to take to my daughter and I found a piece laying on the floor.
“It’s pretty easy to lose pieces,” Hornbeck said. “I know, it can be very disappointing once they get to that last piece and it’s not there.”
Seed of an idea
Hornbeck said the idea for the book and puzzle giveaway came about after an April 1 story in the Telegram about Jody and Jim McKenzie, owners of Cowboy Up! Coffee in Torrington, who made and gave away sack lunches to truck drivers at the Port of Entry west of town in late March. Their effort spurred the anonymous family to think of different ways to help out the community, she said.
“I think the donors saw that and realized you can think of new and creative ways to help people,” Hornbeck said. “You can give to food banks and do this and that, but there are other ways of doing stuff.
“There are lots of ways,” she said. “People greater than I can think of creative ways to help people.”
Having the donors step up and fund the giveaway also helps out the Library Foundation, Hornbeck said. Proceeds of the three regular book sales typically go to finance children’s activities, including the annual Summer Reading Program, at the Goshen County Library.
This year’s spring sale – normally held this month – has been postponed due to the effects and restrictions required by the ongoing pandemic, Hornbeck said. As of last week, it has been rescheduled for August, which would probably push the regular autumn sale in October back a month or so.
The loss of revenue this spring isn’t going to mean a funding decrease for summer programs at the Library, she said. The Foundation has sufficient reserves for this summer’s programing. And the donor family more than covered the value of the books that will be given away Thursday, Hornbeck said.
Facing an unprecedented situation such as the novel coronavirus can easily be overwhelming, how it affects individuals and families. But it can also overwhelm people who feel moved to help out, but can’t decide which of the countless causes to choose, Hornbeck said.
This giveaway is one thing that’s really pretty simple the donor family and the Library Foundation could do, she said.
“This just happens to be where I am and what I can do,” Hornbeck said. “Other people have even greater skills, different skills, and they can provide something.
“It’s not just your common, every day, ‘Let’s donate to the Red Cross,’ or ‘Let’s donate to the food bank,’” she said. “It’s not that those things aren’t needed, but there’s little things, smaller thing, you can do as well.”
The most important thing Hornbeck hopes people will take home from the book and puzzle giveaway is the knowledge there are people in the community who are trying to do those little things.
“Everybody is still thinking about everybody else,” she said. “We’re thinking about you.
“What can we do?” Hornbeck said. “You’re always regretful for the things people are suffering through, but I think it’s nice to know everyone is thinking about everyone else. That’s pretty important.”