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High school student collects, donates books to jail inmates

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Dec. 22, 2019 at 6:37 p.m.



ST. GEORGE – A high school student in Southern Utah who wanted to make a difference organized a book drive for inmates to have a more Merry Christmas.

Students learn all sort of things in school. At Desert Hills High School in St. George, many of them are learning compassion.

“It’s been really life changing for me,” said Carly Parks, a junior at the school.

For the past few months, Parks has been collecting as many books as possible.

“My mom and I were thinking of a service project for me to do,” said Parks.

The idea was to help keep Parks busy. That way, she wouldn’t think of how difficult Christmas is going to be without her mother.

“I miss my mom a lot,” said Parks. “I wish she was here, and she could see this.”

Her mom couldn’t be there to see all the books she collected, because she’s in jail. The reason isn’t important for this story, because no matter what, Parks loves her.

“It’s been extremely hard,” said Parks. “She tries to find the good every day, but she has her hard days.”

Parks decided to collect books to donate to her mom’s jail. Having new books means her mother and other inmates can mentally escape.

Marla McPherson is one of Park’s teachers at Desert Hills. Parks reached out to her for help with starting the book drive.

“She’s a bookworm herself,” said McPherson. “When she approached me, it showed to me that she understands the power books have to transform lives, particularly for women who are incarcerated.”

Of course, it meant Parks had to let others know why she wanted to help the inmates. Telling her friends and people at school her mom was in jail can be tough for a teenager.

“I was so extremely embarrassed,” said Parks. “But I realize there are a lot of people who don’t have their parents here with them and sharing my story will only make people stronger.”

Parks and her friends asked for books at the school library. They also were able to get donated books from two St. George businesses who agreed to set up donation bins. One was at Affogato Café, the other at Book Bungalow.

In all, Parks was able to collect close to one thousand books.

She’s planning on having them delivered to the Clark County Jail next Saturday.

“I think reading can bring a lot of peace and happiness to them,” said Parks. “They don’t have a whole lot to do in there, so I think getting them some fresh new books will definitely be helpful.”

Alex Cabrero

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