Tom Pantera | Johnson Publications
Donna Applegarth says she has returned “dozens and dozens and dozens” of library books to the last person to check them out.
Retired teacher gives gift of reading memories to ex-students
A few months back, Michelle Harchelroad received a remembrance of her late husband.
Donna Applegarth brought her an old Wauneta High School library book. When Harchelroad saw the card used by students to check it out, Brian’s name was at the top.
“I thought it was very kind of her to think of me,” Harchelroad said.
It wasn’t just a one-off act of kindness. It’s something Applegarth, 94, has made something of a hobby.
A retired teacher for several schools in the area who lives on her family farm 11 miles east of Wauneta, for the past couple of years she has rescued books that are being removed from school libraries in Wauneta and Palisade. She checks the sign-out card in each book and sends it to the last person to take it out of the library.
The hobby began when Shelly Yoder, a former student and now the high school’s librarian, was about to discard some books written by Ralph Moody, one of Applegarth’s favorite authors and one whose works she often read to her elementary students.
“She discovered they were doing away with these books in their library,” Applegarth recalled. “She said, ‘I’m keeping them for you. Come and get them.’”
The idea grew from there, and Applegarth began sending books to their one-time borrowers. She has sent them as far as the east coast and the southwest, as well as to people in the area. She figures she has given out “dozens and dozens and dozens.”
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