What Mother Nature taketh away, Olentangy Orange High School freshman Heber Fuller — with the help of the local community — giveth back.
After Hurricane Harvey decimated school buildings throughout the Texas Gulf Coast in August, leaving many students and teachers without books to read, Fuller — a member of Boy Scout Troop No. 696 in Westerville — decided to dedicate his Eagle Scout Service Project to restocking the bookshelves at Hull-Daisetta Elementary School.
Located northeast of Houston, the school lost roughly 12,000 library and classroom books as a result of the hurricane. As of Nov. 16, the school now has nearly 18,000 new and gently used books thanks to Fuller’s book drive.
During the month of October, the Delaware County community with support from surrounding communities, surprised Fuller with their generosity as books poured in from local schools, libraries, churches, businesses such as Half Price Books, and nonprofits like Books For Bedtime.
“I’m amazed how the community came together and so many wanted to help out these kids,” Fuller said. “My initial goal was to collect at least 1,000 books, but so many people helped spread the word and donate books that we collected 17,719 books.”
As for getting the books 1,100-plus miles to Hull, Texas, two local businesses stepped up to lend a hand. Lowe’s donated heavy duty moving boxes and tape to ship the books, and Pitt Ohio transported the books free of charge from its Grove City hub.
Fuller said the books weighed 4.3 tons and would have cost more than $1,000 to ship had Pitt Ohio not donated its services.
Fuller makes trip down south
To see his project through to completion, Fuller and his father, Chris, flew to Texas and spent several days helping to unpack the books and stock the empty bookshelves at the elementary’s temporary location in Hardin, Texas.
“Hardin Elementary built a new elementary school last year and let Hull-Daisetta use their old school that had just been sitting vacant for a year,” Fuller said. “The library is in a very small room right now, but they are quickly filling the shelves with the books we helped unpack. Once they go through all the books, they are hoping to gift duplicates to the kids in the school that lost everything.”
In summing up his Eagle Scout Service Project, Fuller said it’s an experience he soon won’t forget after helping bring joy to children affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“It was rewarding to finally see the books make it into (the students’) hands after so many hours of work by so many people,” he said. “You could see their eyes light up. One little girl quickly spotted a dinosaur book, which she said was her favorite kind of book to read. They all had big smiles on their faces.”
Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.