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Library catalogs a record for popular basket fundraiser

Chip Ellis
Volunteer Cheryl Morgan fluffs up a "dress-up" wicker basket full of outfits and accessories for little girls. The basket will be among those sold at a silent auction on April 20. Proceeds benefit the Kanawha County Public Library.
Chip Ellis This basket for bird lovers with books, a birdhouse and more has been donated for "A Tisket, a Tasket ... A Literary Basket," a fundraiser for the library.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At last count, 76 baskets filled with books and goodies had been donated for the annual "A Tisket, a Tasket ... a Literary Basket," a major fundraiser for the Kanawha County Public Library.

"The most we have ever had is 65," said Cheryl Morgan, a member of the library board and chairwoman of the basket benefit.

"It's saying that people want to help the library. We don't know some of the people, they're strangers. It's like magic."

The baskets will be sold at a silent auction that begins at 6 p.m. April 20 in the auditorium of NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage, 1700 MacCorkle Ave. SE. Bridge Road Bistro will cater the event.

Last year, the Friends of the Library raised $31,000 for the library's children and family programs.

This year, Friends Chairwoman Ghee Gossard said, "We think it's best that the library use their discretion as to where our money goes."

Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Kanawha County Board of Education doesn't have to give funds (currently about $3 million) to the library, as the Legislature had directed decades ago.

The school board's money accounted for 40 percent of the library's operating funds. The school board has agreed to continue its funding through June. Meanwhile, in anticipation of the steep cut, the library board has canceled the fall book festival and has eliminated all Sunday hours.

So the response to ticket sales and donations "has been very enthusiastic," Morgan said.

Here's an example:

One basket contains books about sternwheelers on the Kanawha River and a gift certificate from Dick Daugherty for a trip for 20 on his sternwheeler The Spirit of West Virginia, complete with legal beverages and snacks, in May or June. "Tom and I agreed to be deckhands," said Lakin Cook, referring to her husband.

Cook was among the dozen women working to "fluff and stuff" the many donated baskets at the library earlier this month. They fill in with extra items, if needed, to make sure all baskets contain at least one book, video or compact disc. It is, after all, a literary-themed basket -- even the bright pink and green Lily Pulitzer basket stuffed with paper napkins, paper plates, quilted tote bag, wine glasses, visor and more has a book.

Likewise, there's a cookbook tucked into an overflowing basket full of edibles from Trader Joe's, a national food chain with no outlets in West Virginia.

"There's enough for three or four meals, plus cocktail munchies," Morgan pointed out.

Corduroy Bear books and related items spill from another basket given by an aunt in honor of her niece. The aunt brought her niece to the library's children department, where the child had so much fun she protested when it was time to leave.

Jane McEldowney's granddaughters wanted to help the library, so they gave their gently used dress-up outfits to stock a white wicker basket with costumes and jewelry for many hours of playing pretend.

And there's glamour in the package worth $700 donated by Contemporary Gallery, which includes a desk chair, picture frames and a wire wastepaper basket. "We call it Organized Executive Goes Glamorous -- it's for a woman," Morgan said.

There's more. The Ridges subdivision on Corridor G has a wine club, which has donated 25 bottles of wine that will be the raffle prize.

"We're calling it Instant Wine Cellar," Morgan said.

Tickets to the basket auction are $30 in advance; $35 at the door. They may be purchased at www.kanawhalibrary.org or contact Lois Payne at 304-343-4646, ext. 283.

The event is sponsored by Kanawha Valley Advertising, Karen and John Lukens, Steve and Katy White, the Calwell Practice and KISRA.

Reach Rosalie Earle at earle@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.


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