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Waveland Elementary School
The school library at Waveland Elementary in Waveland, Miss., was destroyed when three feet of water surged into the school during Hurricane Katrina.
Weekend Today
updated 10/16/2006 12:05:52 PM ET 2006-10-16T16:05:52

In an effort to help school libraries in the Gulf Coast region, “Weekend Today” joined forces with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, to launch “Today Turns the Page: A Book Drive for the Gulf Coast.” Below are the profiles of four schools that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and need to restock their libraries before school begins in August.

Thanks to the generosity of “Today” viewers, at least six schools in the Gulf Coast will be able to rebuild their school libraries, getting the right books onto shelves and into the hands of students.

South Plaquemines High and Elementary Schools
Plaquemines Parish, La.
South Plaquemines High and Elementaryschools are new kindergarten through 12th grade

South Plaquemines High & Elementary

schools opening for the 2006-2007 school year. The students attending South Plaquemines will be from the former Buras Elementary, Middle and High schools, which were lost during Hurricane Katrina. It's estimated that prior to the storm, the schools combined had around 1,200 students and a library collection totaling around 25,000 books. Between 600-700 students are hoped to return when the school opens August 11, and a 2,900 square foot library still needs to be stocked with titles for kids of every age and grade level. School librarian Cindy O'Brien says they are also looking to stock resources for parents of students, since public libraries were also wiped out by the storm.

Waveland Elementary School

Waveland Elementary School
Waveland, Miss.
Located in Mississippi, Waveland Elementary is a kindergarten through third grade school. Prior to Katrina, its enrollment was 380 students. When the school year ended in May, it only had 187 children enrolled. Since the storm devastated the city so greatly, many students and their parents are unable to return. Scant housing and job resources are the main reasons. Three feet of water surged into parts of the school, and what the water did not destroy, mold did. The library, which claimed 9,000 books before the storm, has yet to recover. Donations have brought the collection from zero to around 2,000 books. Most of those have been paperback, which educators say will not fare as well as hardback books for such young students. Classes resume on August 5, 2006.

Central Elementary School

Central Elementary School
Pascagoula, Miss.
Very little exists of Pascagoula's Central Elementary School. Katrina destroyed everything except for the walls and floors. As the school tries to prepare for the next school year, it struggles to replace many of the books it lost. The entire book collection is gone. Central is looking for hardback books, elementary non-fiction and even teacher resource materials for classroom use. Also, the school desperately needs an encyclopedia set. Currently, a 1972 encyclopedia donated from a garage is all it has.

McDonogh 32 School

McDonogh 32 School

New Orleans, La.
Located in the hard-hit Algiers area of New Orleans, McDonogh 32 school lost much of its library and still has less than one-third of its original collection nearly one year later. The building itself suffered extensive wind damage and collapsed in some areas. As a result, McDonogh 32 will reopen on September 5, slightly later than many schools. Approximately 700 students attended prior to Hurricane Katrina, and for the upcoming school year, 500-600 students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade are expected to return.

Donor comments:

Never stop reading!! It’s the greatest gift we can give each other.
— Carol, N.C.

I hope this donation will help get your school year off to a good start. As an elementary school principal, I know the energy that is generated through the school library. Good luck as you re-open your doors to the students of the Gulf Coast.
— Kathleen, Ill.

I am very sorry about what happened to your school. I love to read, and I know it must be very sad to have lost all your library books. I hope you can use this money to help rebuild your library. 
— 5-year-old from Md.

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Since you have little money, I will give you some of my college savings to buy the Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins because I loved this book so much.
— 6-year-old from N.Y.

I am a second grade teacher and I know how much our library means to our students and teachers. I hope this small contribution will help restore some of the joy of having literature in your school again. You are in our hearts.
— Beth, Ohio

Reading opens the world to you. We hope your lives are soon back to normal. Our daughters, ages eight and four, love to read books every night before bed. We hope our donation will allow you to have a book at your bedside.  
— Gary, S.C.

This donation was made in recognition of my mother’s retirement. A reading teacher for 30 years, she is honored to help with your efforts.  
— Jessica, Mass.     

We hope new books help you turn the page to a bright future! We are thinking about you!!   
— Judy, N.J. 

The Mississippi Gulf Coast will always be a special place in our hearts and we know that it will come back strong. The strength, hope and love of the people from there has never shined so brightly. We will continue to keep you in our prayers.
— a family from Miss.

Books are such a wonderful source of happiness and joy! I hope that my little contribution can help rebuild the lives, minds and library collections of Katrina survivors.
— Renata, Ala.

Our two-room school hopes this little bit helps. We would also like to send books to your school to be handed out to the elementary students.
— a school in Calif.

Dear friends, Most of our family is from the Miss. Coast and we are devastated by the events of the past year. We send prayers and love your way, and hope that sunnier days are ahead.
— Love, your friends from Oxford, Miss.

Hi Guys! Reading will open so many doors for you! I hope you continue to read for pleasure and for knowledge.
— Linda, N.J.  

I could not imagine a school or world without books. What a limitless resource of knowledge and possibilities. 
— Susan, Ill.     

This contribution was raised by the students, faculty and staff of the 2006 South Carolina Governor's School. They want their colleagues in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast to know that they are always much in their thoughts. Best of luck this school year!  

Good luck in rebuilding your library. Books are such a treasure, and hopefully the children will have many happy hours of reading again.    
— Fla.

I am a noncommissioned officer in the Army and I value education greatly. I wanted to do my part to help ensure that the children affected by this tragedy will at least be able to get lost in a book and learn about history or their favorite characters. I think this is a wonderful campaign and God Bless you all for helping those in need.
— Calif.

I am an elementary school media specialist and am glad to be able to help restore your library book collection!
— South Carolina

As a pre-school teacher in La. I understand the importance of books and what happens when you lose them. I lost my entire classroom to flood waters but I was lucky enough to have it all replaced by donations. I hope that you are able to replace the precious books you lost. Good Luck!  

We need our children to expand their world through books. Their knowledge and creativity will help rebuild an even better Louisiana and Mississippi. 
— Deborah, La.

This gift is in honor of my sister's birthday. We are both retired teachers and we know how much books meant to our students, our own children and our grandchildren.

From a N.H. school librarian who knows how valuable up-to-date library materials are for all students. Good luck in the coming school year.

The library and reading was very important to me while I was growing up. I learned at a very early age that anything I wanted to learn I could find in a book. Books expose children to information and a world to which they might not otherwise be exposed. I hope my contribution can help rebuild your library and help the children in some small way.
— N.J.

I am giving this $15 in celebration of my 8th birthday to help the children who are victims of Katrina. I hope they enjoy their new books.
— N.Y.

As a literacy educator myself, I applaud your efforts to rebuild your schools and the lives of these children. Apart from providing them with basic needs of survival, providing them with books and a good education is the most important thing you can do. Thank you so much for your efforts.
— Ohio

We are donating this in honor of my sister, a librarian, who is turning 50 this year. We are all book lovers in this family and hope that this can do a little good.
— Va.

Hi, I live in Kingwood, Texas. I am 5 years old and am fixin' to start kindergarten. I love to read so I am donating my allowance from Aug. thru Dec. to help your school buy some new books.

The students of Kirtland Elementary School in Kirtland, Ohio collected gently used books for Hurricane Katrina damaged libraries. In order to make a monetary donation, they sold the books locally by taking donations for the used books they had collected. 

As a former teacher and media specialist, I feel your pain at losing your precious books. Please use this to replace some classic early childhood books that I love so dearly. Best wishes on your endeavors.
— Mary from Fla.

I am a kindergarten teacher in Ohio and know how vital a library is to the school. I am happy to make a contribution to rebuilding your library and to help you take one more step toward normalcy.

This donation is from a 9 year old and 5 year old. Everyone deserves to have a great library in their school. We hope this helps to give books back to the kids who need them. They each decided to give $20 so I pitched in the rest. We wish everyone the best in rebuilding.

I believe the library is the heart of the school. Good luck in your efforts! 
— Minnesota

My grandchildren have so many books, I don't know what their lives would be like without them.  I want other children to have the opportunity to read and want to contribute to rebuilding the libraries in the hurricane-devastated areas.
— Virginia

We chose to send $84.00 because my oldest daughter is 8 and my youngest daughter is 4. When they heard that these kids' libraries were destroyed they said ‘Oh no that's terrible!’ We hope that this will help bring the joy of reading to your area. Good luck.     
— family from Mass.

Hi, my name is Payton. I'm going into the first grade in Penna. One of my favorite things to do at school is go to the library. I hope you get a lot of good books.

St. Anne's Day Camp and their families in Palmyra, N.Y. came together and held a garage sale to raise money to help with this great cause. It was great to see children excited to help other children they do not know. The kids at St. Anne's want to wish the children in the Gulf Coast a great school year and happy reading!  

Although we never can imagine what you have gone through, we hope that this year is better for your schools. Hopefully the progress will go on very fast. Everyone in my family is thinking about you and we hope that you don't have to struggle any longer.
— 8 year old from PA

I bought some books for Jutta's birthday and figured you folks needed them more than she did.
— Jeff, Calif.

Of all the many ways in which the survivors of Katrina need help, we feel it is truly important that the children resume some sense of normalcy. Going to school is one of the most important aspect of healing for the children and having school books is fundamental.  
— Ill.

This donation is from an event that we do every Friday at our school called Dress Down for a Dollar and Casual for a Cause, where we put a dollar in a jar to raise money for children's charities and good causes. From one school to another, we wanted to help out! We live in a coastal community in southern N.J. and we know the power of coastal storms and hurricane. We wanted to help out in your devastating situation. We wish you the all the best in your rebuilding efforts and hope this little bit of money helps put books back in the hands of children.

Hope that this helps! Libraries are wonderful windows to the world.
— Mason, Ohio

I'm donating this money in honor of my Bar-Mitzvah. I hope the kids enjoy the books that can be bought with this money. Have fun!
— Brandon Beldengreen-Karas, Florence, Mass.       

Good Luck! You are all very brave and wonderful. We are behind you 100%.
— Elmwood Park, N.J.

I am a children's librarian and cannot imagine a life without the joy of reading. I wish you happiness and success as you rebuild your libraries, schools, and lives.
— Lancaster, Pa.

I am so proud of all you students and teachers. You have done an amazing job of coming together to support each other. I wish all of you love and success in all that you do.
— Buffalo Grove, Ill.   

Our best wishes to the teachers and the children for a wonderful school year ahead!
— Brooklyn, N.Y.     

List of contributors:

© 2013 NBC News.  Reprints

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