The great book giveaway

Elyce Bonnell and Community Services gathered books for children in memory of local teacher Karen Harris.

Bryan Rosa is excited to read his new book, which came from a collection of books donated by Islanders, at the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Childcare Center on Thursday. —Stacey Rupolo

After her friend Karen Harris died this fall, Elyce Bonnell of West Tisbury wanted to find a way to honor her. Ms. Harris taught an early education program at the West Tisbury School, and was passionate about books and reading.

“We really connected when talking about books,” Ms. Bonnell said. “I wanted to do something that she would be proud of.”

On Thursday, at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), Ms. Bonnell began distributing 1,200 donated books to children at the MVCS child care center as part of a holiday book giveaway.

In November, Ms. Bonnell made online requests through social media channels such as the Islanders Talk Facebook page, and the donations poured in. Bunch of Grapes bookstore donated five bags filled with young adult books, and individual Islanders sent the rest. Donations ranged from five books to big boxes filled with 70 books.

Once the books started arriving, Ms. Bonnell coordinated with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, Friends of the Edgartown Library, and MVRHS teacher Josh Burgoyne to assemble and distribute books. The Friends of the Library purchased blank paper bags, and Mr. Burgoyne’s high school leadership class decorated them with holiday motifs, put four books in each bag, and added a tag that reads “In memory of Karen Harris.” They presented 70 bags of books to kindergarten and pre-K students at the MVCS childcare center on Thursday.

The remaining book bundles will be donated to the Department of Family Services (DFS) in Falmouth, the Island Wide Youth Collaborative, and the Island Counseling Center.

“Whatever I have left I’m going to give to DFS, so it can be an ongoing thing for them to give a welcome bag,” Ms. Bonnell said. “I hope to keep collecting books year-round, and keep supplying [DFS] with bags [of books].”

To donate books, contact Elyce Bonnell at the Edgartown Library (508) 627-4221 or