A global response for books for one Sandy boy resulted in books in the hands of thousands of individuals in Salt Lake County.
While delivering mail this summer, United States Postal Service Mail Carrier Ron Lynch met Mathew Flores, a 12-year-old Sandy boy with a penchant for reading. Flores didn’t have books and couldn’t afford a bus pass. His reading material was primarily advertisements and newsletters; he asked Lynch for more of these materials so that he had something to read.
Lynch decided to do more. He shared his experience with Flores on Facebook and requested that people send books to Flores, care of the Sandy Post Office. The post went viral and people from around the globe began sending books and magazines. This activity caught the attention of local, national and international media outlets, which resulted in even more books and magazines being sent to Flores and his family.
Darin Butler, manager of Salt Lake County Library’s Sandy location, learned about the Facebook post and immediately reached out to Flores. Butler helped Flores sign up for a Salt Lake County Library Card and advised him of libraries in and near his neighborhood.
Originally, Flores had hoped to read every book and magazine prior to donating them to others. As his bookshelf, closet, bedroom, patio and other rooms began to fill up with books he decided to donate some – nearly 3,500 – to others who may not have access to books or libraries.
“When I heard that Mathew had more books than he could handle, and wanted to give some away, I immediately thought of the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Clinics in the County,” said Darin Butler. “I told Mathew that Salt Lake County Library accepts donations and we could share the books with families and individuals in the community who may have little or no reading materials.”
“I am so happy for the other families to receive these books and so proud of Mathew for wanting to donate them,” said Flores’s mother.
The books and magazines donated by Flores have been distributed to agencies serving seniors, youth, children, under served populations and survivors of domestic violence. Salt Lake County Library coordinated the distribution of the books to the many locations. Primary recipient agencies were Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services, Salt Lake County Youth Services, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, South Valley Sanctuary, Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services, Utah Food Bank and WIC Clinics.
“Mathew’s desire to read and generous offer to make reading more accessible to others is something to be commended,” Butler stated. “His actions will make a positive difference in the lives of others in the community.”
Salt Lake County Library Services, the largest library system in Utah, serves a population of more than 783,000, and will check out nearly 16 million items this year. With more than 4.5 million visitors to its 18 locations, the Library provides extensive reference services, events and online resources. To learn more and to get a Library card visit: www.slcolibrary.org.