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Book fair proceeds to benefit the children of inmates

June 19, 2009
MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Lacher, 515-271-3119, lisa.lacher@drake.edu

Young readers will benefit from Forever Books for Kids, thanks to a book fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 26, at Barnes and Noble in West Des Moines.

Proceeds from the book fair will help support Forever Books for Kids, a new organization that provides books to children to take home after visiting a loved one in the Polk County Jail.

At the fair, customers can listen to stories told by the Two Rivers Story Spinners, a central Iowa storytelling guild, in the children's section.

Professional storyteller Maureen Korte and members of the legal community founded Forever Books for Kids to honor Dave Ashcraft, former Des Moines Public Library librarian. The group was inspired by Ashcraft's library service, which delivers books to inmates at the Polk County Jail.

Celeste Bremer, adjunct professor of education at Drake University, initially conceived the concept of Forever Books for Kids.

"I was touring the jail last summer and the visiting area seemed so stark," Bremer said. "I thought we could make it more welcoming and humane if visitors and inmates knew their children would have something to do while they are there."

Graduate students from Bremer's Leadership in Complex Organizations class at Drake have helped establish the organization and will continue to contribute to its growth and operations.

"This project is an example of Drake's collaborative learning experience," Bremer said.

"This is not only among the students who are going above and beyond the requirements of the class, but by expanding options for both the Two Rivers Story Spinners, the Ashcraft project and the Polk County Jail."

Graduate student Marti Maxon was instrumental in coordinating the efforts to form Forever Books for Kids, and attests to the overall benefits the program will provide.

"The program is giving anyone involved a way to make a positive impression on kids who may need that influence in their lives," Maxon said.

The movement to create a more kid-friendly space will be furthered by the efforts of Scavo High School this fall. Scavo students will be doing a community service by painting murals on the walls of the children's visiting area.

"The staff at the Polk County Jail has been very helpful and open to making the visiting area less stressful for the visitors, inmates and staff," Bremer said.

To ensure portions of the proceeds from books bought at the fair will be donated to the project, customers must tell the cashier at checkout that they support the Ashcraft project book fair.

Forever Books for Kids also is accepting donations of new and used books. Donations may be left at drop boxes in the U.S. Courthouse vending area ground floor, 123 E. Walnut St.

For more information, contact Marti Maxon at 515-327-8127, or Suzanne Hess at 515-537-6167.