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Everyday Evangelists: St. Max parishioner shares love of books with Ugandan students

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April 13, 2011

By David Eck

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — Molly Savage grew up loving books and has come to appreciate the way a good story takes her to places she may never see in person.


Molly Savage has created Library of Love to raise $5,300 to purchase textbooks for students at St. Mary Primary School in Uganda. (Courtesy photo)

So when Savage, a member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Liberty Township, learned that the students at St. Mary Catholic Primary School in Uganda needed textbooks, she decided to help provide them.


Savage, 14, who is home schooled, created Library of Love to raise $5,300 to purchase 254 textbooks for the sixth- and seventh-grade students at St. Mary.


“I love working with kids and I have always loved reading books,” Savage said. “I found out they didn’t have books, and it kind of caught me off guard.”


She contacted the principal of the school for information on their textbook needs. Armed with photos of the students from the school, flyers and a poster, Savage has raised nearly $1,000 since January. She received a $500 grant from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Anderson Township, and nearly 30 people have contributed money, including someone in Utah.


Savage has created handmade bookmarks that she is offering to anyone who contributes $18, the cost of one textbook.


Savage’s confirmation sponsor, Susan Giuliano, had visited St. Mary School and saw the students trying to study subjects like physics with only a chalkboard and notebooks. Savage heard Giuliano mention the need for textbooks and decided to make it her confirmation project.


At home in West Chester, Savage and her younger sisters, Erin, 12, and Caitlin, 8, are often given books at Christmas and Easter. Their parents, Jim and Maureen, encourage the girls to read, and there is a house rule that requires at least 20 minutes of reading daily. Often they read for much longer.


Establishing Library of Love has helped Savage realize the difference one person can make and the positive impact her effort will have on students in another part of the world.
“Education is really important to them,” Savage said. “They will be able to learn more from the textbooks, and so they will be smarter in different subjects that may help them … [develop] their country.”


The project is also deepening her faith.


“Poor people are special to God, and helping them is bringing me closer to God,” she said. “To me, the church means going and praising God and being God’s people to everybody. The fact that I’m helping people across the world is showing that.”


Savage and her mother have helped with food banks and smaller volunteer activities in the past, but this is first project of which she has taken ownership. It was her idea to embrace and address the need. The project is helping Savage develop life skills such as organization and public speaking, her mother explained. It’s also teaching the teen to look beyond her own needs.


“As a parent, it’s moving your child from being self-centered and egocentric to stepping outside of herself,” Maureen Savage said. “It’s about Jesus’ commandment to love, and that’s the central part of our faith as Christians and as Catholics. All the other things are about helping us to love more. The prayers that we use, the liturgy, the Eucharist, it’s all bringing us back to His commandment to love.”


Giuliano said Savage is motivated to reach her goal.


“She’s heard the poorest of the poor’s cry,” Giuliano said. “Molly is a wonderful young lady who has a dream that has captured her heart. She’s going to do what she needs to do to raise the money. It’s a definite calling for her.”


For more information or to donate to Library of Love, contact Savage at [email protected].


David Eck can be reached at [email protected].


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