Book donations for tornado victims

Lauren DeCourcey, center, and Maryland State Police Sgt. Nicole Forchion, criminal section supervisor for the Bel Air Barrack, and Lt. Matthew Kail, the commander of the Bel Air Barrack, hold a few of the thousands of books donated for children in Moore, Okla., that was devastated by a tornado in May. Lauren started the book donation program that is filling up the UPS trailer parked at the Bel Air Barrack. (Photo courtesy of James DeCourcey / August 7, 2013)

The family of a detective sergeant at the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack went to Oklahoma over the weekend to meet with students who received some of the more than 50,000 books that 8-year-old Lauren DeCourcey helped collect for victims of the May tornado.

Jim DeCourcey, who lives in the Jarrettsville area, said his daughter wanted to go to Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, to see the devastation first-hand and to meet with some of kids whose schools will receive the books.

DeCourcey said he, his wife, Jane, and Lauren flew to Dallas before driving roughly three hours to Moore.

"We wanted to go so that Lauren could see her project followed through," he said. "All too often, parents start a project with their children and take it to a certain level and never see it all the way through."

The books were collected at the Bel Air Barrack over the course of several months and delivered to Oklahoma via UPS truck earlier this month.

Lauren, a fourth-grader at Tome School in North East, loves to read and was disturbed to hear the children in Oklahoma might not have books, DeCourcey explained.

He said: "I am not going to kid you, I thought she would get a couple of boxes of books. One hundred and twenty boxes later, the books filled up half of our garage."

DeCourcey said there is clearly still plenty of work to be done in Oklahoma. The books were given to Winding Creek Elementary School, which was not affected by the tornado and will be distributing the books as needed.

He was very impressed by Lauren's collection efforts.

"I am very proud of her thoughtfulness and her desire to want to help people," he said. "She is basically a selfless person."

In addition to scores of individuals, two Maryland Troopers Association lodges teamed up to help with Lauren's book drive. Youth's Benefit Elementary in Fallston donated books, as did Barnes & Noble in Bel Air, and the Jarrettsville Lions Club donated $1,000 to buy new books. DeCourcey also said a number of people volunteered their time to help in the book drive.