Library donation featured in APT program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

Alabamians are among the most generous people in the nation.

Giving Makes Change, a new half-hour documentary on Alabama Public Television, showcases the true, empowering stories of folks throughout the state who helped earn Alabama its place of honor on the latest annual ranking of charitable states produced by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.

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The Selma Public Library was featured in the program.

“The power of the gift to change lives is what this program’s about,” said Becky Nichols, Selma’s Head Librarian. “We are all stewards of our resources and we’ve got to play a part in cultural centers, educational centers, and the library – which is free to everybody. This program is about philanthropy in Alabama.”

The APT filmed during one of the library’s craft programs with children.

“Kathryn Windham was featured,” Nichols said. “It was really an honor to be chosen. The story of ‘Ernest’s Gift,’ the children’s book funded by Mr. and Mrs. Julius Talton about the Selma teacher who funded the children’s wing, drew their attention to us.”

“Ernest’s Gift” is the story of a young boy in the 1930s who loved books, but was turned away from the public library in Selma.

It is also a story of the power of forgiveness as the grown man leaves in his estate a donation of $10,000 in honor of his family to the Selma Public Library.

Today, the library’s reading room holds the portrait and name of Ernest Dawson.

The author, Kathryn Tucker Windham, is a best-selling author of dozens of books and is a nationally known storyteller and radio commentator.

The illustrator, Frank Hardy, is an artist and the founder of the Selma Youth Development Center.

Windham wrote “Ernest’s Gift” as part of the celebration of the Selma Public Library’s 100th anniversary.

“Over the course of the years, the library’s been such a target for giving,” Nichols said. “Now, this is not to give the impression that we’d be able to pay our utilities ourselves, but that aspect of the library is a governmental responsibility, anyway, and this program’s focus was an encouraging piece about the good that giving can do.”

Giving Makes Change was produced by Alabama Giving as a way to highlight the importance of individual giving.

Supported by funders throughout the state and a grant from New Ventures in Philanthropy, Alabama Giving is an initiative formed solely to promote and encourage philanthropy statewide.

Among the many big-hearted Alabamians whose diverse stories illustrate the generous spirit of our state are a sharecropper’s son who provides scholarships for science students; a teacher builds a children’s wing for the Selma library that once barred him from its books; a Sumter County artist brings givers large and small together through a cultural center that has transformed the town of York; young adults support the needs of Walker County through their time, talent and treasure; employees of a Mobile real estate development company cook up support for charity with their own brand of barbecue.

Giving Makes Change will air again on APT Sunday, Jan. 8 at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 15 at 10:30 p.m.