News: Neillsville - Community Service (Books 4 Kids – 2017)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Coulthard, Weirauch, Knodle, Gerhardt

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 12/06/2017

Neillsville Youth Takes Community Service to Hear (Books 4 Kids – 2017)

By Todd Schmidt

Brady Coulthard, 17, of Neillsville recently found a perfect outlet for his desire to help people.

Coulthard spearheaded a Living to Serve project called “Books 4 Kids” that was developed during a summer FFA conference in Washington, D. C.

“I was concerned about a lack of books available to underprivileged families,” he said Thursday. “The FFA conference helped me create a plan to meet the need.”

He said his original goal was collecting and distributing 500 books.

“All the other kids said 100 or so was more realistic,” he said.

The Wisconsin FFA did a short story about the project. An article announcing the project appeared in The Clark County Press. Coulthard created a poster, which he sent out on Facebook, and other social media outlets. He also distributed posters at many are locations, including the Neillsville Public library (NPL).

“The world goes to the library,” he said. “Word of mouth also travels fast in a small town.”

Coulthard distributed collection boxes at various locations from Sept. 10 until Oct. 1, including Family Roots, Sniteman Pharmacy, Hansen’s IGA, Neillsville High School, and the Neillsville Public Library. He conducted a book drive, and set up a GoFundMe page seeking donations.

Following a presentation by Coulthard, the Neillsville Optimist Club contributed $150. A Mary Kay salesperson donated $130, which was a portion of her proceeds from a week of sales. K. Weirauch wrote a $100 check.

Coulthard used the funds to purchase 400 books. His collection efforts gathered 2,000 more. Many of the books were bilingual (Spanish and English).

“It made me feel good, knowing I could help change somebody’s life,” he said. “It was amazing how many people and organizations stepped up to help. It blew me away.”

Coulthard took a day off from school Nov. 14, to deliver 1,400 books to the Milwaukee MKE pre-school and resource center. He also took time to read to some of the children.

Brady Coulthard reads to an appreciative young student at the Milwaukee MKE preschool and resource center. Coulthard and supportive family members delivered 1,400 books to MKE Nov. 14, which were collected through the Books 4 Kids project spearheaded by Coulthard. (Contributed photo)

“It opened my eyes to see how grateful they were,” he said. “Kids were showing each other their books, and saying how excited they were to be able to take them home. People in general don’t understand the impact of this.”

Many books stayed to stock up the MKE library. A shuttle bus goes around the Milwaukee School District and delivers books through an outreach program.

Coulthard and family members stayed in a hotel in Milwaukee for one night.

“It was shocking to see the number of single mothers who were raising their children there,” he said.

Book donations are still coming in. Coulthard delivered many volumes to the Clark County Food Pantry and Resource Center (CCFPRC) Thursday. Some of the books will be taken to the House of Mercy in Loyal.

Brady Coulthard and fellow volunteer Ellie Knodle deliver boxes of books to the Clark County Food Pantry and Resource Center Thursday. The books will be given to needy families, and shared with the House of Mercy in Loyal. (Nancy Curtin/Clark County Press)

Coulthard had another reason for pursuing his service project.

“One goal was to inspire other FFA members as kind of a ripple effect, showing them, they have the power to make a change,” he said.

Coulthard was able to do some of the work on the Books 4 Kids project during the school day. The rest was done on his free time, around his part-time work schedules at Sniteman Pharmacy, and Kwik Trip. He learned a lot about what it takes to put together such an effort.

Brady Coulthard sorts out some of the approximately 2,400 books collected through the Books 4 Kids Project. (Contributed photo)

“You have to be organized and be able to communicate,” he said. “You have to get help when it is needed and be able to delegate some tasks.”

He spent much time sending emails, and searching out available resources, with positive results.

“A favorite thing was realizing how people in a small town come together to support important causes,” he said.

Coulthard appreciates the support of his family, and the assistance of FFA advisor Amy Gerhardt.

“Mrs. Gerhardt helped a lot with the organization,” he said. “They all had faith in me, and told me I could do this.”

Gerhardt said it is great to have a young person so passionate about helping others.

“Brady has embraced the spirit of serving others by organizing projects that help the entire community,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the work Brady has done. He has a strong support system, and his family should be commended for supporting, and assisting with the book drive.”

Coulthard came back from the summer FFA conference with several more community service project ideas.

He is in the process of developing a food drive/food packing event to benefit CCFPRC, a clothing collection drive, and a potential “poverty dinner” to raise funds for underprivileged families.

His vision for the poverty dinner is selling tickets for the experience, which would sort attendees into various “classes” (rich, middle, and poor, who would have to sit on the floor and eat). Examples would be given of feeding people in disaster situations, who basically have nothing.

“A script goes with the dinner,” Coulthard said. “It would be another opportunity to open the eyes of some people, and raise funds to help others.



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