Rochester HillsOctober 24, 2012
Give the gift of reading this holiday season
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
ROCHESTER HILLS — No child looks forward to spending time at a hospital, but with the help of a simple book, their stay can become a little more comfortable.
Joanne and Marc Tarling have seen firsthand how a book can provide a welcome escape to a child spending time in a hospital. The couple frequented the library in the pediatric unit at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, to help entertain their two older children while their youngest daughter, Charlotte Tarling, was seen by doctors and specialists for a rare, degenerative brain disease. When she was baptized a couple of weeks before her death at 5 months old, her parents asked for bookstore gift cards or money that could be put toward purchasing more books for the pediatric unit in lieu of traditional baptism gifts.
The Rochester-based nonprofit Charlotte’s Wings was founded soon after to continue and expand the initiative of donating books to children in hospital and hospice care throughout Michigan.
This holiday season, Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Rochester Hills and Charlotte’s Wings are teaming up to comfort children in hospitals and hospice care throughout the state with a holiday book drive.
Barnes & Noble Community Relations Manager Laurie White said the holiday book drive is something the national bookseller does every year. Each store across the country selects a local recipient — usually a nonprofit, a library or a school — to benefit from the drive. The Rochester Hills Barnes & Noble will begin its eight-week book drive to benefit Charlotte’s Wings Nov. 1 and invites customers to purchase an extra children’s book to be donated to the organization through Jan. 1, 2013.
“The books from this book drive will give patients and their families little moments that make a child smile. They provide a moment of distraction that helps them not focus on the situation at hand for a few minutes. We’re also happy that these books will go into libraries where siblings can use them, too. A lot of the time, and I know from my own experience, those siblings are spending weeks and weeks and weeks cooped up in a hospital room supporting the parents and the child who is sick, so it’s a little thing that can make a big difference,” Joanne Tarling said.
When White’s daughter had to spend a week in the hospital, she said, her daughter was so excited to see the hospital staff bringing carts of books around to each patient in the hospital.
“It’s just a wonderful thing to see the kids’ faces light up. They are there, and they’re sick, but then they get a new book, they are happy, and they have a couple of minutes just to be a kid again and not think about being sick,” she said.
Last year, the inaugural book drive resulted in more than 1,000 donated books. Joanne Tarling hopes at least as many books will be donated again during the drive this year.
“Last year we had a phenomenal book drive. There was fabulous generosity. People just reached out to us and were really supportive,” she said.
To date, the nonprofit has donated around 17,000 books to Michigan hospitals and hospices in an effort to provide hope and smiles during traumatic times.
“We started off donating to three or four hospitals in the area and we just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and now we go all over the state. We’re in the UP, we’re in Traverse City, we’re in Grand Rapids, we’re in Bay City, we’re everywhere,” she said. “We’re just thrilled that what we thought was this little kitchen table project supporting three or four hospitals with one little fundraiser has become this enormous endeavor and we’re able to support so many families all over the state every year.”
Jennifer Buck, chair of Charlotte’s Wings, said the nonprofit is thankful for the support from Barnes & Noble this holiday season.
“This kind of donation will make an enormous difference and will allow us to touch the lives of so many children across the state who find themselves spending time this winter in the care of Michigan hospitals and hospices. We are so very grateful for the support of Barnes & Noble and the generosity of their customers this holiday season,” she said in a statement.
To find out more about the work of Charlotte’s Wings, visit www.charlottes-wings.com.
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