Wisconsin Nonprofit Helps Communities Recover From Floods Through Reading

Driftless Writing Center Raises Money For Local Schools To Replace Books Lost In August Floods

Children's books
Nick Amoscato (CC-BY)

Members of the Driftless Writing Center have donated more than $1,000 to local school districts to replace books and supplies lost in severe floods at the end of August.

“Schools almost never get any unrestricted funds,” said Lisa Henner, co-founder of the Driftless Writing Center. “They were able to replace some of the books that they had lost and offer books to children who may have lost their personal libraries by participating in like their Scholastic Book Clubs and just the normal channels through which schools are able to obtain books.”

Henner said she and other board members collected community donations for the project. One of the schools that received a donation was Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton Elementary School.

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“We asked for funding to replace some of our summer library books,” said Principal Gayle Luebke. “We have students take home books each summer so that they have some in their house that they can read and some of them were destroyed with the flooding.”

Luebke said her school didn’t have extra money in their budget to replace the lost books.

“Each year some of the kids will keep books so our library gets smaller and smaller,” she said. “So to lose a whole bunch all at once was really devastating.”

The Driftless Writing Center also made donations to schools in Coon Valley, La Farge, De Soto and Viola.

Henner said she had the idea for a flood relief program after seeing families staying at a shelter in Readstown.

“All I could think about was if I were in that situation and… if I’d have had young children with me, how would I have been able to comfort them at that time?” Henner said.

With many families still rebuilding or even looking for new homes, Henner said her organization wanted to bring comfort and the opportunity to escape through reading a good book.

And Henner said she expects the need to continue as major flooding events become more in the Driftless Area.

“We’ve sort of accepted this as our new normal,” Henner said. “We look at that as a business community and certainly as farming communities, but if you also look at our institutions that are dedicated to literacy and learning, these institutions could be hit really hard. And I don’t look at schools and libraries as being luxury, I look at them as being foundational for our communities.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify members of the Driftless Writing Center donated the money for the books.