One mother’s love of reading to her children motivated her to give back. And, her generous gift has snowballed into a monthly educational program for children.
On Sunday afternoon, Friends of the Valdese Rec shared on Facebook a list of “25 Books That Teach Kids To Care About The Environment” from Huffington Post. The thought was to purchase some of the books for the Valdese Public Library. Beth Heile, President of Friends of the Valdese Rec shared the post on her personal page to raise awareness. Within minutes, Kristina Mercer contacted Heile about purchasing the books. Mercer said, “I have read to my boys since before they were born. I feel very strongly they benefited from that and many years later they have been successful because of the time spent reading with them.” Heile explained to Mercer that all 25 books would cost $300 and perhaps she could donate a portion. But Mercer said, “I spend plenty on stuff I do not need!! This is something that benefits our entire community not to mention our future!!”
Mercer’s generous offer inspired Heile to augment the donation of new books on the shelf. Heile contacted the staff at the Valdese Public Library to talk about Friends of the Valdese Rec starting a “Conservation Kids” group that would meet monthly. Amber Mason, Senior Library Program Specialist, loved the idea and the program time is set for the third Thursday at 5:30 pm in the Meeting Room at Valdese Public Library. March 19 will be the first meeting for kids 5 Years to 5th Grade and the program will consist of reading one of the donated conservation themed book together and doing a related craft. Crafts will involve items recycled or from nature as much as possible. Leaders, class content and all materials needed for the program will be provided by Friends of the Valdese Rec.
Heile said, “I am extremely grateful for the generous gift from Kristina. Without her involvement, there may have been a donation of 4-5 books and nothing else. But, because of her, we have 25 new books and the new Conservation Kids program. I am excited for kids to hear the message these books bring, and I hope the kids will become advocates for nature.”
A huge benefit of the Town of Valdese acquiring the 300 acres on Lake Rhodhiss for a park was the conservation element – saving wildlife and their habitats, ensuring water quality and clean air. Friends of the Valdese Rec is eager to share these lessons with the younger generation. In addition to the monthly program times, the group will take field trips to the parks in Valdese to observe and interact with nature. Over time, they will watch caterpillars transform into butterflies and the roots of a plant grow through a clear panel.
Mercer is currently the President of the Rotary Club of Valdese and Secretary of Foothills Service Project Board. She is co-owner of Highlands Family Farms and lives in Valdese with her husband Jon, two sons, Jonathan and James and her father, Ed Miller
Friends of the Valdese Rec supports the Valdese Parks and Recreation Department in both the development and on-going care of parks, sports teams, sports fields, pool, facilities, programs. The group was instrumental in helping the Town of Valdese acquire the land for Valdese Lakeside Park and currently maintains and hosts activities at the park.
List of Books Donated:
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
Grandpa’s Garden PB by Stella Fry
George Saves the World by Lunchtime by Jo Readman
The Lonely Polar Bear, A Subtle Way to Introduce Young Kids to Climate Change Issues by Khoa Le
City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
The Adventures Of A Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches
Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree by Naoko Stoop
Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals
Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson
One Love by Cedella Marley
Kate, Who Tamed The Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow
The Water Princess by Susan Verde
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau
Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor
Kenya’s Art by Linda Trice
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh
Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon
Bee & Me by Alison Jay
Don’t Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
One World by Michael Forman