Photo: Toddler books donated through Ann’s Heart for Books (Courtesy photo)
A program that provides books to children being cared for at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis and that started with a DeSoto County family will continue again this year.
The project is called “Ann’s Heart for Books,” for Ann Brown Ashcraft, and is done through the Lee Ashcraft family, including daughters Ruth Ashcraft Munday and Betsy Ashcraft Walker.
Ann Brown Ashcraft was the daughter of Winn Brown and his wife Annie Ruth Brown. She was also the wife of Lee Ashcraft, who is known in DeSoto County for his work with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Ann Brown Ashcraft passed away in 2017.
“Ann’s Heart for Books” has been working to get books to hospitalized children the past several years in her honor. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the project last year was able to provide 872 books to the Forrest Spence Fund, which provides the books given to youngsters hospitalized at Le Bonheur. The previous year, again despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 1,663 books were sent to the fund and then sent on to the hospital.
“We know Ann would have been touched to have so many children and families blessed with books to lift their spirits during difficult days,” Ruth Ann Munday said. “Ann’s great joy was working with children and inspiring them to develop their own love of books.” The Forrest Spence Fund is again the vehicle to collect children’s books to celebrate Ann’s birthday in 2022.
The non-profit organization is designed to assist with the non-medical needs of critically or chronically ill children and their families. The books collected are given out at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. They are included in what are called Care Bags.
“It is very heartwarming to see a parent or grandparent reading to their baby or child while they are at Le Bonheur,” Munday said. “Sometimes, it is the only sense of “normalcy” they may have and something they can physically do for their loved one. The greatest needs are for books for the younger age range of 0-4 years.”
Munday said that due to hospital COVID-19 guidelines, only new books can be this year. There are different ways to donate books.
“You may order your books online and ship them to me or drop them at one of our three community book collection sites, for those in the local area,” Munday said, adding that donors should include their name with the donation.
Another way is through Lindsey Grace Darby with Usborne Books & More, who is hosting an electronic book drive to make it easy for donors to shop and select books. Shoppers may also shop for books for their own family, and when shopping through a given link, Usborne Books & More will donate 50 percent of the purchase price back in free books to the book drive.
If one simply wishes to make a monetary donation, it will be matched by Usborne Books & More at 50 percent in free books.
Monetary gift checks should be made out to Ruth Munday and mailed in care of P.O. Box 444, Horn Lake, MS 38637.
The website to shop for books for the drive is http://www.LGBookPlace.com and choose “Ann’s Heart for Books” when you click “SHOP” or at “CHECK OUT”.
You may ship Usborne Books & More purchases directly to the Forrest Spence Fund Office at 3092 Poplar Ave, Suite 15, Memphis, TN 38111. The link below is used to connect to the Usborne Books & More wish list: https://y4897.myubam.com/wishlist/9c62da3d-be81-4c0b-b160-aad2010cefa6
Drop off locations for the book drive include: Walker, Brown, and Brown, P.A., 2540 Hwy 51 South in Hernando; Winn Brown Law Firm, 1613 Main Street in Southaven; and SouthGroup Insurance, 5740 Getwell Road, #12-A, Southaven.
For more information, email email@example.com.