IROQUOIS COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – Wanda Kendall Elementary School is working to replace library books lost in a devastating flood.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation presented them with a grant worth $1,850. the money will be used to restock the library shelves for kids in preschool through first grade.

“I really feel that this is a huge honor – to help students and help our local communities in areas where we have Dollar Generals,” Dollar General District Manager Adam Saba said. “And to be able to help our young ones really get back into reading.”

In 2018, Watseka was hit by a massive flood. the damage permanently ruined thirty five percent of Wanda Kendall’s library books. And classrooms temporarily moved into churches.

“Everybody kicked in together. Our teachers were fabulous to be able to teach and to change everything over into that kind of a setting,” District Librarian Julie Dunn said.

That was nearly four years ago. Faculty members are still concerned for children’s emotional wellbeing. Natural disasters like the flood are traumatic… And so is a global pandemic.

“There are so many diverse needs right now. And our students are feeling it,” Dunn said.

So, the school is leaning on the power of reading. They’ll be spending the grant money on books that cover themes like anxiety, stress and coping.

“There’s a sense of resiliency in families and some of our students,” Curriculum Director and Grant Manager Carolyn Short said. “But we’ve seen sadness, we’ve seen uncertainty. The littles would be perhaps confused or seeking a teacher to hold their hand or friendship circles… and then we went into COVID.”

Even in uncertain times, one thing is for sure. Librarians, teachers and administrators are excited to rebuild their library… And help the little ones heal.