Golden loves books and loves to blog about books, so she turned to her cyber friends in the literary world for aid. Her efforts rewarded the Ringgold High School English department with more than $20,000 worth of new books from Random House Inc. and other sources.
She and local author Susan Gregg Gilmore were present Wednesday, Oct. 5, at Ringgold High to open boxes of brand new classics and celebrate with the English department faculty.
“My first plan was to have an online auction,” said Golden, “so I started blogging and talking to authors and other bloggers. I have some connections across the country, and I thought we could work together better.”
Golden said one of the first people she contacted was local author Susan Gregg Gilmore. Golden had read Gil-more’s book about Ringgold titled “Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen,” so she felt Gilmore would be a logi-cal person to contact.
“I definitely wanted to donate something,” said Gilmore, “so when Julie called, we got together and brain-stormed and started to reach out to the reading community coast to coast and see where it would take us.”
The two decided the best plan was to focus on the long-term rebuilding of the schools. They collaborated with a Ringgold-based book club (The Not-So-Rapid-Readers), other authors and Ringgold/Chattanooga residents, as well as school representatives to learn what was needed and how they could turn their efforts into a long-term involve-ment. They created a website, ringgoldreads.com, allowing readers to either donate money or books from a particu-lar list of school curriculum classics such as “Frankenstein,” “Macbeth,” “The Invisible Man” and “A Raisin in the Sun”.
Random House Inc., Gilmore’s publisher, donated 50 copies of 20 classic novel sets. Simon & Schuster also do-nated 50 copies of eight novel sets. “Communities in Schools of Catoosa County” donated $5,000 worth of books, some to be placed in the classroom, some to be given to students. About $2,500 worth of books and donations came from other generous citizens and groups through the website.
Copies of Gilmore’s “Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen” were also delivered. When asked for her inspira-tion regarding the Ringgold-based book, Gilmore explained that although she was living in Los Angeles at the time she wrote it, her parents have lived in Ringgold for a long time, and she was often here.
“I need a setting when I start a book that speaks to me and fits what I want to say,” said Gilmore. “Ringgold was just perfect. It’s a town that has been wonderfully consistent, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, like stagnant, it’s just wonderfully rooted. I also liked the concept of a “ring” of “gold.” That kind of kept playing through my mind.”
Gilmore currently lives in Chattanooga. “Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen” and her second book, “The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove,” can both be found in local bookstores.
Mark Pierce, from the Ringgold High English department, was overwhelmed and overjoyed with the donations. He was impressed by their concern that the children have something new.
“The thing I love is that not only did they (Golden and Gilmore) want to replace books that may have been dam-aged, they wanted kids to have something new in the classroom. They’ll have a new football field, a new band room, a new art building, and they wanted them to have new books. The beautiful thing about Susan and Julie and rin-goldreads.com and all the others is they all came together. This group of women revolutionized our whole depart-ment with new materials and resources that sometimes our funding and committees can’t do. They did it, and Ran-dom House got on board. It deserves attention. It’s pretty amazing what these ladies have done.”