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PEOPLE Grants Readers' Birthday Wishes
Jeffery Salter

10/08/2009 AT 11:00 AM EDT

A School Library Gets a Makeover

After a 2006 tornado ravaged her tiny Arkansas town, Marmaduke Elementary School librarian Lena Hood felt sick as she surveyed the debris-covered stacks. “It was so sad,” says Lena, 63. Yet the damage to the rural school—where half the students are poor—made one thing clear: The school’s library was a relic, with tattered, outdated books, including a 1957 tome on the Soviet Union.

Enter Team Target. For three weeks crews working with the Target Volunteers School Library Makeover campaign painted the walls, brought in furniture, laid carpeting and installed four desktop computers. On Sept. 29 some 30 volunteers from Target—which, with the Heart of America Foundation, a nonprofit literacy group, has renovated 17 other school libraries this year—replaced old books with 2,000 new volumes and gave each of the school’s 394 students five books to take home. “They had books from when I went to school,” says Target volunteer Tommy Hendrix, 24, a Marmaduke alum. “This was needed.”

No one could agree more than Emma Morton, 11, a sixth grader eager to jump into the Harry Potter series. “The library was running out of things for me to read,” she says, “so this is really neat.” Agrees Lena Hood: “Now there’s such pride.

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