CHAMPAIGN — Matt Butler wanted to send children's books to Oklahoma after tornadoes ravaged the community of Moore in mid-May, killing about two dozen and leveling a good portion of the town.
But the high cost of shipping them made the Eagle Scout candidate rethink his charitable effort and concentrate on something closer to home.
"My scoutmaster asked me to talk to the American Red Cross," said Butler, a 15-year-old sophomore at Central High School.
Jamie Davis, disaster program manager for the Red Cross, said often when families have disasters where they've lost everything, they end up in hotels for temporary shelter. They've often gone from multiple televisions and video games in their homes to having nothing.
"There's one TV and everybody watches what the adult watches. We've always given away blankets and stuffed animals. I thought if we could get new or gently used books, the parents can go through and pick a couple that are age-appropriate so the kid has ownership of something. It's some type of entertainment," she said.
Davis said the agency has never given away books before, but when Butler came to her proposing to do his Scout project with the agency, she offered a few suggestions and he liked the book idea.
Butler said he decided to collect books for children ranging in age from infancy to about 13, then devised a plan to get it accomplished.
"We were trying to figure out where to set up boxes. We were thinking churches, the Red Cross and the Scout shop. Then I thought, wait a minute, we're collecting for fire victims. Why not fire stations?" he said.
Butler, who has been in Boy Scouts about 10 years, said he contacted Champaign Fire Chief Doug Forsman and Urbana Fire Capt. Dave Wisher, both of whom endorsed his idea.
Late last week, Butler started putting his book boxes and fliers about his project out in the community and is hoping to collect as many new and gently used children's books as possible between now and Sept. 15.
Drop-off locations are at:
— Champaign Fire Station 1: 307 S. Randolph St., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Champaign Fire Station 4: 2315 W. John St., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Champaign Fire Station 6: 3911 W. Windsor Road., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Urbana City Building, front foyer, 400 S. Vine St., U., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
— Urbana Public Works, 706 S. Glover, U, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— American Red Cross, 404 Ginger Bend Drive, C, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
— Boys Scouts of America Prairielands Council, Robeson Scout Shop, 3301 Farber Drive, C, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Wednesday, Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 14.
— Savoy United Methodist Church, 3002 W. Old Church Road, Savoy; check with church at 352-3993 for drop-off times.
— Canaan Baptist Church, 402 W. Main St., U; check with church at 367-2185 for drop-off times.
For information, Butler may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org