Several Crystal Lake Elementary District 47 schools collected books to help out a sister school in Round Lake Park affected by recent flooding.
Ruel Apostol, a sixth-grade science teacher at Bernotas Middle School in Crystal Lake, started the book drive to help Murphy Elementary School, whose entire library and classroom books were destroyed after heavy rains and flooding in July.
Apostol, who worked as a paraprofessional at Murphy for three years, heard about the school's flood damage and sprung into action after seeing a former colleague's Facebook post asking for help from the community to restore its book collection. Word about the book drive soon spread to other District 47 schools.
School librarians gave up whatever books they could, as did teachers and other employees making it a districtwide effort, Apostol said.
"It was more of a teacher initiative," Apostol said. "I was only expecting a few books that I could fit in my small car. I was surprised and overwhelmed with the huge turnout. More and more boxes came in until I couldn't handle it anymore. I am so proud to be part of the Crystal Lake school district community that is always ready to offer generous help to those in need."
Roughly 45 boxes of books were collected overall from Bernotas, Indian Prairie, Glacier Ridge, Coventry, West and South elementary schools and Hannah Beardsley Middle School. They were delivered to Murphy Thursday, officials said.
"Our students, staff, and community have been humbled by the outpouring of support we've received from neighbors ... near and far," said Philip Georgia, Murphy Elementary School principal.
Georgia said the July 11 and 12 flooding deluged the school's lower level with four feet of water.
"Our whole library was a complete loss," he said. "We had 8,000 to 10,000 books that we lost. We have insurance that will cover what we lost in the library, but our district has always been a district that is not able to provide what other districts can provide their students."
Thanks to donations from community organizations and book publishers, the school has received more than 100,000 books which will be shared with two other Round Lake Unit District 116 elementary schools -- Ellis and Beach -- whose libraries also flooded.
"We've been very blessed," Georgia said. "It is really going to allow us to update into much newer books for our kids to choose from. Teachers' classroom libraries have been able to be upgraded. Mr. Apostol's kind gesture is truly appreciated ... the donations will give students greater exposure and opportunities."
Since the school's lower level is still inaccessible, the library has been set up in the hallway. Classes started Aug. 21 for its 550 students in first through fifth grades.
"Insurance hasn't replaced any of our books yet," Georgia said. "Everything that we are operating with right now has been donated books."