FOLSOM, California (KCRA) — In just a matter of days, Folsom-based children's author Jennifer Ann Sweeney said she has collected thousands of pounds of books to send to Maui after deadly wildfires destroyed much of Lahaina.
Her original plan was to go to Hawaii in September with 200 books to read to children staying in shelters.
She posted about her goal on Facebook and in author social media groups online. She said she started getting mail from people and authors around the world to her front door. Folks in Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Canada sent her boxes filled with books.
People who live in the greater Sacramento region, as well as local libraries and schools, have been dropping off books.
Sweeney said her new goal is to re-stock the library in Lahaina. So far, she said she has collected 5,200 pounds of books.
"Every child and adult needs to escape in some kind of way," she said after being asked about the impact of books and reading.
Sweeney was born in Cameron Park and currently lives in Folsom. She said she lived in Lahaina for four years and worked on Front Street.
She said her loved ones survived the wildfire, but has a friend who lost "everything."
"After four days of crying, I woke up one morning and I thought, 'You know what? As a children's author, what can I actually do?'" Sweeney said. "I can do something, right?"
Sweeney said she has been speaking with emergency management officials on Maui and is waiting for the green light from them to begin shipping the books to the island.
She is also still collecting books, with her goal of re-filling the library.
You can contact her via email if you would like to help. Her email address is J.firstname.lastname@example.org.