Canby Friends Send Children’s Books to Kentucky Flood Victims

Hundreds of children’s books and youth chapter books are on their way to the flood-devastated small town of Whitesburg in eastern Kentucky this week, courtesy the Friends of the Canby Public Library.

The Friends were answering the call of Denise Yonts, superintendent of the Letcher County School District, which lost the libraries of two elementary schools and one middle school in historic flooding earlier this summer on the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

The Friends board members were also inspired by local resident and volunteer Susan Bitter and her soon-to-be 8-year-old granddaughter, Delaney, whose annual habit is to ask for support of a charitable effort rather than gifts for her birthday.

This year, she has been asking for books for Letcher County.

“It’s her birthday wish, that kids bring donations instead of gifts,” Bitter explained. “Her dad is from Kentucky, and they go back often, so they have really been feeling for the people out there.”

Bitter ran into several members of the Friends board of directors following a recent meeting, and they were eager to help.

“Susan told us about it at lunch, and we just decided to do it,” Friends board member Patti McAlpin said. “It was almost 100 pounds of books. It was heavy.”

The boxes also contained a note from Bitter with information about Canby and the Friends.

“It was really fun,” she said. “It gave us all a good feeling to be able to do something like that. It was an easy decision to make.”

Whitesburg is one of several communities devastated by flash floods that swept through eastern Kentucky at the end of July.

Flooding in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

The floods ravaged numerous homes and businesses and destroyed priceless remnants of Appalachian history like those stored at Appalshop, a cultural, arts and media center in downtown Whitesburg.

At least 37 people were killed in the historic disaster.

The Friends of the Canby Public Library is a volunteer-run, member-based nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting free educational and cultural programming as well as other needs of the Canby Public Library. Learn more at

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