Families of military personnel in need of answers now have a resource to turn to thanks to the Crawfordsville District Public Library and the Montgomery County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Library staff unveiled a new collection of military books and materials Tuesday afternoon geared toward helping families who have loved ones overseas.
The collection was the idea of Bambi Garrett, the local Red Cross chapter’s military coordinator.
She has a son in the military and is always is looking for ways to help others.
Garrett began contacting libraries in the counties the local chapter serves to see if they would be interested in taking part in the program. Currently, the Crawfordsville, Williamsport and Covington libraries all have military collections.
Garrett said the Crawfordsville library has the largest selection of material at the current time with more than 100 pieces.
Randy and Lisa Deneau, whose son Alex is currently in Afghanistan as part of the 101st Airborne Division, were on hand for the unveiling of the collection.
“Having reference material like this available to us helps us to understand what he is going through,” Randy said.
Lisa said the couple had several questions when their son came home from his first tour of duty.
“We are a lot more prepared this time,” Lisa said. “Having a collection like this helps to bring us peace as parents.”
The collection is currently located at the top of the main stairs on the second floor next to the new books.
“We are hoping that the collection grows overtime,” CDPL Director Larry Hathaway said.
He said the library has duplicates of a few of the available titles. Plans are to keep the collection together in one spot unless it grows too large.
Garrett received a $1,000 grant from the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University to help buy materials for the collection. She also received donations from Blue Star Mothers of Indiana Chapter 3, Random House, Brian Bowman VFW Post 1431-Ladies Auxiliary and various community members.
Garrett plans to apply for the grant again next year in hopes of making the collection larger.
“There is an infinite amount of books out there,” she said.
Garrett’s effort was highlighted by the national organizations as one of its gems of the month. She has already has fielded calls from other chapters wanting to learn more about the program.
The collection features books and materials for all ages, including several books for children.
One of Garrett’s favorites is a children’s book “Boo Boo Bears Mission” written by Mary Linda Sather.
The story is about Boo Boo the Bear’s mission while on duty with her son in Iraq. Her granddaughter had sent the bear to her father while he was deployed. The story has a reassuring, happy ending for children.