Students at Faye Wright Elementary School recently were asked to think of a book they loved but were ready to part ways with.
And part ways they did.
Fourteen boxes of books were collected Friday, Jan.27, and shipped off to Bohol, Philippines, as part of the “Books for Bohol” donation effort started by a Salem family with ties to the school.
“Book ownership is not something that happens in this part of the Philippines. They go to libraries, but they can’t even check out a book and bring it home,” Principal Amy Coyle said Monday. “That’s a really cool idea we got to help with — giving somebody a book that belongs to them. It’s that power of creating a love of learning.”
Carl Crowell, whose daughter attended Faye Wright, is an attorney whose speciality was copyright, trademarks, and intellectual property law. Crowell practiced law in Oregon and worked with the fishermen and tuna processors, who had business ties to southeast asia. When he was hired by a seafood importer bringing in seafood from Asia, before long he was working for the client’s suppliers in Asia and others in the region.
During that time, Cromwell not only became not only became an expert in places like the Philippines — he also fell in love with the island country and decided to retire there.
In his retirement — which worked out despite trying to move at the start of the pandemic — Crowell worked on an ad hoc reading program in the Philippines using older children’s books and felt more would “be nice.”
“I liked the idea of being able to give the kids their own books,” he wrote in an email.
In 2021, Typhoon Odette struck and suddenly, Crowell was looking for ways to improve the lives of the people of Bohol beyond emergency relief, including rice, canned fish and soap.
“I realized a problem with the disaster response was a lack of education and the best way to prevent any future disaster from being so devastating was to go to the heart of the matter,” Crowell wrote.
On his project’s Facebook page, he wrote that for most of the students in Bohol, the donated books “will be the first … they ever own.”
”All we want are gently loved books ready to be loved by someone new,” Crowell wrote.
He credited Calvin Lampe, a Faye Wright teacher, with organizing the recent student book drive.
Crowell’s daughter, Miranda Seble, an alumna of Faye Wright, was the one who packed the donated books into her car Friday to prepare for shipment to the Philippines.
“I loaded them into my Subaru Outback and a second vehicle — because they did not all fit — and over the weekend, I packed up over 1,085 books across the six boxes I completed, and I am barely halfway through,” Seble said, adding she feels “delightfully overwhelmed.”
Book titles include that of Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona Quimby” series, “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf and picture books about Oregon.
“They’re books that helped me learn to read,” Seble said, “and I am just absolutely humbled by what this means for kids separated by an ocean who may never meet but are passing on a love of literacy.”
She acknowledged the books will take a while — likely months — to arrive in the Philippines. Books shipped in October just arrived in the island country.
But regardless of how long it takes for the books to arrive, Seble is mindful, like her father, of the significance of Filipino school children having books to keep.
“The idea that schools and universities have libraries, but most people over there do not own a personal book — let alone a collection,” she said. “(My father) wanted to take books over there, so he’d put extra books in his luggage and people (in the Philippines) would ask, ‘Can I read it?,’ not having books of their own at home.”
Coyle said school officials loved this book drive so much they’re in talks about it becoming an annual event.
“Books deteriorate pretty rapidly there, so they will always be in need of more books,” Coyle said. “If this is something we can do every year, that feels pretty good.”
She has not been involved in any school donation drive beyond one for food.
“It was really cool to see kids excited to bring in things from home and share with somebody that they don’t even know,” Coyle said.
STORY TIP OR IDEA? Contact Reporter Kevin Opsahl by email at [email protected].
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Kevin Opsahl is the education reporter for Salem Reporter. He was previously the education reporter for The Mail Tribune, based in Medford. He has reported for newspapers in Utah and Washington and freelanced. Kevin is a 2010 graduate of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, and is a native of Maryland.