From The Heart

Anne Coleman delivers the books to the Community Services Agency office on Third Street in Turlock.
Anne Coleman delivers the books to the Community Services Agency office on Third Street in Turlock. (Lori Coleman)

As a youngster, Anne Coleman loved to read.

So when it came time for the Turlock High School junior to complete a 4-H project, it was no surprise the project she chose involved books.

Anne, a member of Turlock's Sacred Heart 4-H Club, created a library for children whose parents receive services at the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency's Third Street office in Turlock.

"I decided to build a library ... because I have loved to read since a very early age," she said. "I wanted to be able to pass on my love of books to younger children."

Anne collected some 375 books for the lobby of the center to fulfill requirements for what's called an Emerald Star project, in which 4-H members complete community service while promoting their organization.

"It engages the member in teaching or sharing knowledge and skills and is also designed to expand the 4-H horizons of the member," Anne said. "We are all encouraged to complete one Emerald Star project while in 4-H."

Anne has been active in 4-H for eight years. She has served as the club reporter for two years and the treasurer for one year.

She is now a teen leader for the group's scrapbooking project. She also is a counselor at Camp Sylvester in Pinecrest during the summer and has led numerous community-service committees through the years.

She got the idea for the project when she discovered that a Merced 4-H member did a similar one in 1997.

"I felt it was a really good idea," she said, "and I went from there."

The Community Services Agency office didn't have much to help entertain children while they waited for their parents in the lobby.

So Anne collected books geared for preschoolers through fourth-graders from clubs, organizations, and schools, including her 4-H Club and Sacred Heart Parish School, where she spent her elementary years.

"At our first 4-H Club meeting in September, I spoke about my project and asked club members to bring one or two new or gently used books to the next meeting," she said.

She received many books, enough to fill two boxes and one crate.

Next, Anne sent fliers to the students at Sacred Heart School, describing her project.

"They brought in many books that helped me fill five boxes," she said.

Anne also received a cash contribution from a business, Active Industrial Contracting, enough to buy 10 books in Spanish.

After she amassed the books, Anne leafed through each one to be sure there was no scribbling and no torn or missing pages.

In addition, she personalized each book with a label identifying it as part of her Emerald Star project.

"When I dropped off the books last Wednesday, the supervisor was very happy to see the number of books I had collected," Anne said. "She was excited and even said she would be sending some of the books to their other office because of the multitude of books I had collected."

"We have the books right out on the shelves where the kids can get them," said Rebecca Robinson, the Third Street office's supervising administrative clerk. "We have people here all throughout the day who bring their kids with them. It's been terrific."

Amelia Varni is a sophomore at Modesto's Central Catholic High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.