Ike and Books

From Gail Dayton comes this amazing link to Joni Rodgers, the free book lady down in Galveston.

Since there’s some sort of election going on right now and the media is saturated with nothing having to do with the Galveston area, Gail has filled me in:

Galveston does have one advantage over New Orleans—it’s a sandbar, not a bowl. The water came up, and the water went down again…. However, houses all over town took on anywhere from one foot to 10 feet of water, depending on where they were and how high the house was elevated. (We have a LOT of the “house on stilts” houses.) The houses across the street from us weren’t damaged, but the houses right behind them were devastated. Bricks knocked off the walls, holes in the walls, etc. Behind the seawall, it’s really hit or miss as to what was damaged and what wasn’t. The seawall worked as it was intended.

But the damage is unspeakable.



On the west end, beyond the seawall (2/3 of the island’s length) it depends on the building standards used in building the houses, and how close the houses were to the beach. A lot of the front row houses are nothing but foundations. Up on Bolivar Peninsula, across the ferry ride to the north, there were no building standards. And the roughest winds and waves hit there. There are places there with nothing left, including foundations… Whole neighborhoods scraped clean.

There are still around 20 people missing who tried to ride out the storm. About a dozen drowning victims have already been found in the debris fields on places like Goat Island and Pelican Island. Some of those debris fields are 30 feet high and cover about 30 acres, of trees and house pilings and boats and furniture and … crud.

The destruction, she says, is so huge and so much everywhere you look, it’s no wonder people flocked to the free book lady to escape into anything to read. I especially like her enticing that young boy by telling him she had books that would scare him witless. Since the library in Galveston flooded completely, the free book lady may be one of the few sources of books:

One of the things that got flooded in Hurricane Ike was the Rosenberg library, which is close to downtown. They lost their entire children’s collection, which was on the ground floor. Not just books, but all the DVDs and chairs and finger puppets and everything. And since they don’t even have shelves to put the books on, they’re not in any shape to take donations of books. If y’all can spare a few dollars—even just five—that would get them closer to being able to put books back on the shelves. You can visit the library website at http://www.rosenberg-library.org to learn more, and they have a donation button right there. Or you can send a donation to Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy Avenue, Galveston, TX 77550 which is fully tax-deductible up to the maximum allowed by IRS regulations.

With the economy in a solid downturn, charities are going to feel it hard this winter, especially around the holidays when people who would normally give won’t be able to as much. But as any not-for-profit can tell you, even $5 makes a difference when many, many people spare that $5.

So what’s your charity of choice, book related or not? And are you in the Galveston area? What news do you have?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    But as any not-for-profit can tell you, even $5 makes a difference when many, many people spare that $5.

    $5 can make all the difference in the world.  :)

    I love World Vision and the Smile Train.  I’m always donating books to Goodwill…I’m going to check out the links in the post, see if they’ll take book donations.

    Also heard about a really cool charity on the radio-Blessings in a Backpack-where kids get sent home with a backpack full of food every Friday during the school year.  Since they’ve started, the kids who are in the program reportedly have fewer absences on Mondays and test scores/grades are higher.

  2. 2
    Leah says:

    I like Smile Train, too, and we sponsor two children through Plan. At home, I love the programs which have you pick a child or a family and buy food, clothes, or school supplies, because our children are still very young, and this is something easy to involve them in.  It’s nice, in the heat of the Christmas rush, to take them shopping for other children.  I want to check to see if they take book donations, too.  I have some perfectly good books that will never be taken at paperbackswap, because everyone and her cousin already owns them, as well as young children’s books my kids are beginning to outgrow.  I hate getting rid of anything my kids have loved, but it would be easier if I knew they were going to someone who really needed them.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    If anyone is curious, here’s the link to Blessings in a Backpack.

  4. 4
    Theresa Meyers says:


    If we bitches can work to save the black-footed ferret, surely we can pull resources to help rebuild their library.  Any chance of creating an SB challenge here?

    spaminator: can45 Can 45 of us dontate 5 bucks each, that’d be over $200 right there.

  5. 5
    Marsha says:

    I focus my giving (time *and* money) right now on projects where my children can participate alongside me.  Right now we:
    – Put together “birthday boxes” for the moms and kids living in our local shelter.  The boxes have supplies like cake mixes, candles, party goods in fun themes and little toys so that the moms can give their kids birthday parties – it seems like such a small thing but I’ve heard so often how much the women like them.
    – We buy presents and books (with wrapping paper ready to go – this is important!) for the pantry shelves of the local clinic.  Parents who are treated are able, if they desire, to choose something for a birthday or gift-giving holiday as they’re also selecting some food to take home.
    – We participate in our church’s “Angel Tree” and each kid is allowed to choose an Angel (this invariably means that we buy for one boy the same age as my son and one girl the same age as my daughter).  My husband’s and my policy is that whatever amount of money we spend on our own kids for Christmas is the amount we spend on Angel Tree kids.  So, if we spend $50 on each child that’s $100 we spend for Angel Tree gifts.  This helps keep our own expenditures in check and also reminds us to dial back our natural inclination to indulge our kids in every privilege.  It’s tempting, but so not a good idea.

    This year we find ourselves particularly blessed and with a bit extra to give.  I’ll be reading this thread eagerly to see how commenters share their philanthropic efforts – although I can say right now that sending a big ole’ honkin’ check to Galveston’s library seems like a capital (ha!) idea.

  6. 6
    Wendy says:

    I give four to eight hours every Thursday at my local Wildlife Rehab Center.  I guess that makes it my charity of choice.  Wildlife enriches humanity….even if people don’t want raccoons in their backyard.  ;) 

    I also give funds to the no-kill cat shelter that fostered my kitties until they could come live with me, and we set up a fund at the humane society in my grandad’s name when he passed away. 
    I’m from an animal-lovin’ sort of fam, I guess. 

    None of this gives people books though, and since books are my other love…trots off to help a wet library restock.

  7. 7
    Miri says:

    I’m in! Bitches for Books y’all!

  8. 8
    Becky says:

    The news coverage for Ike was a strange and eye-opening experience for me.  I spent about a week and a half in Austin with friends, desperately watching the news, looking for information.  The reports were usually contradictory and lacked any hard information.  Austin housed a lot of evacuees, so you’d think their local all-news channels would try to have the best information available.  But all you ever saw were rubble in Galveston and windows blown out down town.  The national news was more interested in the presidential campaigns and the financial crisis than Ike.  You’d think that the nation’s 4th largest city basically shutting down for two weeks would be news, but apparently not.

    Local news once I got home was more specific, but the spin on some stories was unbelievable.  The local Fox affiliate had a story about a public housing complex that was boarding up units because they’d been damaged so badly that they were unsafe.  And oh noes!  The poor poor people!  No one would let them stay in buildings that could collapse any minute, and no one was giving them somewhere else to live!  How about the shelter down the street?  That’s where everyone else who lost their home went.  If they’d let them stay the story would have been Oh noes!  The poor poor people!  They’re making them stay in unsafe housing!  I expect a certain amount of spin I guess, but that particular story was laughable.

    I haven’t wandered down to Galveston, so I don’t know first hand what the conditions are.  (Generally, I think people should stay away if they don’t have specific business, personal or charitable, in damaged areas.  The last thing they need is tourists.)  I do know that my area of Houston, which was one of the least effected, is still not completely back to normal.  The city is working to get all stop lights repaired- a lot were left pointing in odd directions after the storm.  And there are still piles of debris along the sides of the road.  They’re using construction equipment to scoop it all into dump trucks to haul away, which is time consuming and snarls up traffic, but there aren’t may options when you’re trying to clear that much stuff.  And there are blue tarps on roofs everywhere you look.  I expect we’ll be seeing those for a long time to come.

    And now, after all that grumbling, I have to admit that my last charitable donations haven’t been Ike related at all.  In the last few weeks I’ve made small contributions to National Novel Writing Month and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  (nanowrimo.org and ccfa.org respectively)

  9. 9
    SB Sarah says:

    Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America

    Go you. I know many a person with Crohn’s. It is an awful problem to have.

  10. 10
    Becky says:

    Yeah, I have it, too.  Crohn’s is a bitch.  And not in a good way.

  11. 11
    mj says:

    I volunteer at the local high school doing work with students to plan their post graduation education – whether it’s job corps, vocational training or college.  We create budgets, help them apply to schools and for financial aid and sometimes help them see how interests and hobbies might connect to jobs and then training for those jobs.

    I donate to OxFam, my local food bank, my local library, anyone who is willing to walk or jog for any cause, and nothing but nets, an anti malaria campaign.  My husband volunteers for our local literacy program.  Off to donate to the library flooded by Ike….

  12. 12
    Michele says:

    I spend a lot of time working with my high school’s Robotics team, and donate a lot of time and resources for them since my district doesn’t really give us monetary support.
    Since I spend so much of my time working with them, their community outreach and causes end up being my causes.  My robotics kids volunteer their time to visit younger students and run events to get them interested in science and technology.  They even wrote a children’s book, and the money raised from the sale of the books is used to start elementary and middle school Lego teams.  Needless to say, every child I know has gotten a copy of the book :)

    They also have become very passionate about Relay for Life, so I am captain for our Relay team to raise money to fight cancer.  They have raised $5000 in the last 2 years, and I’m so proud of their hard work.

    I also have participated in Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Juvenile Diabetes.  I have 2 friends who have battled the disease since birth, so it’s a personal cause for me.  In addition, the book baskets that Brenda gets donated are AMAZING.

  13. 13
    Stormy says:

    My charity of choice is the Central Asia Institute – http://www.ikat.org

    This should be tangentially related to Smart Bitches: started by Greg Mortensen, the CAI works to further education in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan, building schools and providing affordable, non-extremist educational opportunities to children.  In most cases, these children are the first in their village to ever be educated to the fifth grade level.  By going to these schools, the families are offered a safer alternative to sending their children to extremist madrassas, which are essentially training grounds for extremists like the Taliban.  I had the privilege of hearing Greg Mortensen speak and he’s a truly remarkable guy.  There’s a program for school children run by CAI called “Pennies for Peace”, and it’s a great way for younger children to get involved with charity and expand their global awareness.

    I live in the Houston area, and we didn’t have power at my house for a week and a half – and we were the lucky ones!  It’s a truly surreal experience, transporting you back to an almost primal sense of being because all you’re concerned with is finding things like food and drinkable water…in Houston.  I also felt very isolated; I could tell you where to find gas in Huntsville thanks to our battery-operated radio, but Argentina could’ve been nuked off the map for all I knew.  When we finally got newspapers again, I couldn’t believe all the pictures from Galveston.  It’s one thing to hear a shocked radio DJ try and describe them; it’s another to actually see them.  My heart goes out to all the residents as they try to rebuild their lives.

    And think on this – if we don’t help, it’ll be up to FEMA and God knows where that will lead us!

  14. 14
    SonomaLass says:

    The Gulf Coast of Texas is one of our favorite vacation spots—Corpus Christi or Galveston, either one.  We had been hoping to make a trip there this fall, but schedule and $$ just made it impossible (nothing like paying for your kid’s wedding to reduce your vacation budget!).  We talked about making a donation, though, in lieu of our spendthrift presence (wherever we go, we’re good for the tourism industry); I’d kick in for books, definitely, with other Bitches.

    My usual suspects in charitable giving are CARE, Doctors Without Borders and Protecting Wildlife.  I also give to Charity Navigator, the non-profit that evaluates other non-profits—I spent a few years in philanthropy, and I know there are a lot of “charities” out there to which it’s a real waste to donate.  Even for one-time donations, of which we give a lot, I always check to be sure an organization is legit and not spending most of its money on salaries or fundraising.

    My pet project the last couple of years has been Kiva, an organization that facilitates loans for small businesses in third world countries.  I love sponsoring loans, because it’s the gift that keeps on giving—as each one gets repaid, I loan the money to someone else.  I’ve only had one load default since I started, and that was due to a monumental collapse of the country’s government and economy that prevented repayment, not a problem with the borrower.

  15. 15
    Silver James says:

    Every October and November, it’s National Novel Writing Month for me – their Young Writers Program is awesome! I volunteer time and money to the local Blue Star Mother’s group for packages to our troops overseas and with the VA Hospital here. (My DH is a disabled vet.)

    Theresa and Miri, I’m with y’all. Bitches for Books!

  16. 16
    Sharon M says:

    Have you heard about Child’s Play

    ? It was started by the guys at Penny Arcade, and it’s an easy way to give childrens hospitals exactly what they want.

    Just go to the site, click on the hospital you’re interested in, and you’re taken directly to that hospital’s Amazon wish list. (Find $25 worth of books/dvds/games they want and ship it to them for free!)

  17. 17

    Hi everyone.

    Thanks for Gail for letting us know. I’m going to start collecting books to send to the library. People are going to need the comfort and solace of the library, which is why I’m going to do what I can.

    I live over an hour away from Galveston, so sending the books would probably work best for me.

    We lost power for 14 days from Ike. We had a generator which made it bearable. But no electricity sucks.

    I’m in, Bitches for Books!

    Tambra Kendall
    Goin’ Down Anthology-Aspen Mountain Press
    Wicked Pleasures-Red Rose Publishing

  18. 18
    kpsr. says:

    I am all for giving books to folks that need them, however it is important to note that, at the moment, the library doesn’t have the resources to deal with putting new books on the shelves. (from the library website)

    The Children’s Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the 1st Floor and all are gone. Many have contacted me wanting to help rebuild the Children’s collection by donating books. It is gratifying to field requests from as far away as Washington D.C. and as close as right here in Galveston. It is difficult not to accept these gifts, but right now it’s important we approach this catastrophe in a logical, organized manner. We have no shelving for books, no technical services staff to catalog the books, no elevator to move the books, no electrical panel to light the department, etc. We can’t put the cart before the horse, as my grandmother would say.

    For the moment, money may be the best option, if it’s an option for the giver.
    I have some books sitting around the office that I would love to send, but I think it’ll have to wait until the library is somewhat put back together. That could, sadly, take awhile.

  19. 19
    Bev Stephans says:

    My charity of choice is The Salvation Army. Even though they are a Christian organization, they do such good work for so many people that they remain at the top of my list from year to year. I have made a donation to the Rosenberg Library and hope they will have it up and running soon. Power to the Bitches!

  20. 20
    Shreela says:

    I can only speak for my immediate area, Zone C, which wasn’t a mandatory evacuation area. Convoy of Hope delivered water, ice, and food (MRE, self-heating dinners, canned lunch packs) every day to a nearby church. The lines moved quickly, and the most “preaching” that happened was the host church gave out a pamphlet. Here’s a link for Convoy of Hope that has a photo of the 18-wheeler truck I saw there:

    I don’t remember seeing any Red Cross donation centers the times I drove around, but apparently there were some because I saw them covered on the local news.

  21. 21

    I’ll hold off on sending the books, but I am going to donate some.
    Thanks for the information about the library.


  22. 22
    Denni says:

    About to work myself out of current giving situations, because mostly revolved around the kids for the last decade or so (& they are growing up).  Volunteered as school so much people thought I was an employee, several community youth sports, and costume alteration & sewing for nursing home performances and dance recital (many moms can’t sew and are very appreciative).

    I’m impressed with the apparent organizational & hospitality skills of Texas women…they are amazing.

    NO building codes?  WTF??  We live in a moderate marine climate and still have building codes out the kazoo.  We’re told it’s tied to federal funding of FEMA and insurance.

  23. 23
    Cory says:

    This tears my heart out. I’m flat broke, but I wonder if they’ll need volunteer services once the books do start coming in? I have some friends I could hang out with in Galveston this summer, and I write a decent MARC record.

  24. 24
    Gail Dayton says:

    Y’all truly humble me. But then, I always knew the Bitches were the best. :)

    And the no building codes—a lot of the houses on Bolivar were old. Lordy, some of them looked like plywood and tarpaper stuck on stilts. The newer ones were built according to flood codes—but those got washed away too. A friend’s in-laws’ beach house now has a 10-foot hole in the ground, behind the still existing dunes and beach grass, where their foundation used to be. Nobody’s real sure what scooped it out, but there’s no concrete, no house, nothin’ but a hole.

    One of the teachers at the community college where the fella works has been showering at the college the past 2 weeks, because they could live in their west end house—the electricity got turned on, but didn’t have any water. They had a porta-potty brought in, had jugs they were filling up in town, but she needed a place for a shower. Water’s back on now, tho. One more step forward…

    So to all of you big-hearted people, Thanks So Much.

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