Davis gets statewide attention, more books in his quest

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By Stephen Thomas

HEBRON ESTATES -- Bullitt County resident Jim Davis has made the difference he had hoped.

The former tractor-trailer driver decided to start a book drive, collecting 100,000 books for libraries in Eastern Kentucky. Davis said the idea came from watching a television special about kids in rural Appalachia dropping out of school.

With half the goal already collected, Davis was officially honored for his efforts by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and First Lady Jane Beshear.

Davis’ efforts come at a time when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His family has assisted in his care, along with helping to collect and deliver the books. Local churches and schools have volunteered as book drop-off collection sites.

According to Davis, a number of bigger libraries throughout the state have made large donations. Barnes and Noble promised a donation that is estimated between 6,000 and 10,000 books.

Another anonymous donation from California arrived at the Davis home with 10,000 books. Unfortunately, Davis received a shipping bill of $243.58 from United Parcel Service for those books.

Davis received something unique: points from a book club transferred by Kelly Smith of Owensboro. Davis said Smith transferred her late father’s accumulated points toward book purchases for Davis’ collection, along with a donation of 6,000 books.

Victory Packaging of Louisville donated numerous boxes for book shipment to eastern Kentucky. Davis said boxes are always a necessity.

Davis also hoped to collect at least 10 new computers for the libraries. He has received seven.

“If it weren’t for a lot of people helping this wouldn’t happen,” he said. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger every day.”

So far books have been distributed to libraries in Carter, Elliott, Lee, Letcher, Magoffin, Menifee and Powell Counties. Davis attended a ceremony in his honor at Powell County with Beshear.

“Mr. Davis’ story is truly a testament to the power of one,” said Beshear. “Thanks to his kindness and generosity, libraries will be able to help children find a love of reading, learning and lay a strong foundation for their future through education.”

Davis was declared by Beshear as a Kentucky Colonel. He credited the Governor’s office for being very cooperative with his endeavor.

More than halfway to his goal, Davis believed it would be no problem to reach with the amount of community assistance he has encountered.

“It’s turned into something bigger than I’ve ever dreamed,” he said. “It’s just one man taking the initiative. It’s all I can do for the kids to stay in school.”

To make donations to Jim Davis’ book drive call 428-6029 or 957-5455.