MAUMEE, OH (Toledo News Now) - An act that is being called a hate crime has not only produced an outpouring of love, but an outpouring of books. To replace reading materials recently lost in an arson at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Books 4 Buddies donated 600 books at a presentation at Owens Community College Monday.
Books 4 Buddies youth volunteers, called "book ambassadors," along with Lucas County sheriff's deputies, presented the book gifts to students and school officials.
Randy Linn, 52, of St. Joe, IN, has been charged with deliberately setting fire to the Perrysburg center. Officials say he destroyed the private school library used by 24 children, ranging in age from kindergarten through fourth grade.
Since the fire in late September, Fadia Abouelaila, principal of the Islamic School of Greater Toledo housed at the mosque, said parents have reported an increase of TV time at home. Like their families, who have been displaced from worship service at the mosque, students have suffered a separation from their constant companions in print.
A total of 23 nationalities are represented among 300 families attending the mosque, whose library had just been restructured in 2011, according to Abouelaila.
Laneta Goings, president of Books 4 Buddies, which collected 10,000 new and gently-used books since its inaugural launch in June, said the donation is a great opportunity for the program.
"Our focus is increasing youth literacy, so it's a bonus that we can also help children after a tragedy," said Goings.
Abouelaila feels the gift will add to kindness that mosque members have received from the community since the fire.
"The students will be happy to have regular access to books again, particularly since they've been taught to give. They'll be on the other end this time," said Abouelaila.
Several local organizations and businesses, including the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, The Blade, Buckeye Cable System, Taylor Automotive Family, Cedar Creek, serve as active partners with the Books 4 Buddies campaign.
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