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HHS students build Little Free Libraries bound for Africa

Members of the Hudson High School art class that painted five of the Little Free Libraries bound for the African country of Ghana pose with their work. Front, from left: Justine Ploeger, Madeline Roth, Brady Minich, Sydney Parsons, Ashley Lardy, Trevor Quade, Katelyn Nestrud and Cheyenne Markie. Back: Erik Peterson, Mitch Majetich, Ryan McDevitt, Avery Lingenfelter, Lexie Nustvold, Sarah Lockbaum, Katherine Ryder, James Meagher, Charlie Richards, teacher Nick Koss and Luke Meyer. (Submitted photo)1 / 7
Five of the Little Free Libraries built by one of teacher Aaron Haskins’ construction classes at Hudson High School are on display on First Street in front of The Phipps Center for the Arts. The nonprofit Little Free Library organization is seeking donations to send the libraries to Accra, Ghana. The nonprofit Books For Africa will provide $2,000 worth of books for each library. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)2 / 7
Shop teacher Aaron Haskins’ advisory group at Hudson High School painted five of the Little Free Libraries. The students include Connor Huhn, Caroline Kloster, Tom Geissler, Nicolas Ferguson, Joseph Halvorson, Alex Hadlich, Derek Kast, Brett Germain, Mark Johnson, Alexa Hill, Kaylyn Jenkins, Julia Joseph, Gabe Franck, Eric Holter and Sam Head.3 / 7
Little Free Library Executive Director Todd Bol shows a library made to honor the nation’s first responders. Bol will be traveling to New York to accept an Innovations in Reading Award from the National Book Foundation. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)4 / 7
A year ago, Todd Bol was building Little Free Libraries on the backyard deck of his house in Hudson. Now his nonprofit organization occupies 12,000 square feet in the St. Croix Granite building at 573 County Road A in the town of Hudson. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)5 / 7
Shari Berg, program development director for Little Free Library, gives away books at the Spirit of the St. Croix Art Festival in Hudson on Sunday. The nonprofit also gave away the Little Free Library in the photo to the person who had the best reason for wanting it.6 / 7
Reader’s Digest magazine named Little Free Libraries the 11th best thing about America in 2013. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)7 / 7

Here’s the story behind the five colorfully painted Little Free Libraries on First Street in front of The Phipps Center for the Art.

The libraries are half of the 10 built last spring by students in Aaron Haskins’ construction class at Hudson High School.

In January, they’ll be shipped to the West African country of Ghana, along with $2,000 worth of books for each library from the St. Paul nonprofit Books For Africa.

The effort is the brainchild of Little Free Library Executive Director Todd Bol, and the launch of the nonprofit’s Good Global Neighbors program.

It’s also a cooperative effort between Hudson High School, Little Free Library, Rotary International and Books For Africa.

Hudson’s Daybreak Rotary Club has contributed $6,000 that will help pay for the libraries and transporting them to Accra, Ghana. Rotarians in Ghana will oversee finding stewards for the libraries and getting them properly placed.

Books For Africa, a nonprofit that has shipped more than 28 million books to 49 different countries since 1988, will supply the books.

The libraries were painted by students in Haskins’ and art teacher Nick Koss’ advisory groups. The students researched the art of Ghana before painting the designs to reflect the colors, animals and culture of the country.

Bol’s hope is that the high school students will communicate with the eventual stewards of the libraries through Skype, YouTube, Facebook and other modern social media.

“I love the old saying, think globally, act locally,” Bol said, “but I always thought that was two legs of the three-legged stool. And build good global neighbors and friends is what it’s about.”

Little Free Library is looking for donations as small as $10 to raise the $1,000 needed to ship a library overseas. Checks can be made out to Little Free Library, designated for Books For Africa, and mailed to 573 County Road A, Hudson, WI 54016.

Donations also can be made with a credit card through the organization’s website,

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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