By Vanessa Lynch, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsAugust 12, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Aug. 12, 2010) - The military and Hawaii are close to Loree Tillman's heart.
While vacationing on Oahu 18 years ago, she met her future husband, Capt. Hank Tillman, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor with the Navy.
She has come full circle since her vacation. Instead of spending her summer vacation basking in the sun or taking in the scenery, Tillman, director of programs for Blue Star Families and "Military Spouse" magazine's 2010 Navy Spouse of the Year, made Hawaii a priority stop on her nationwide tour to distribute books to military children.
"I didn't want the West Coast to forget that we have Soldiers and families stationed here in Hawaii, and that they need our support as well," Tillman said.
She added that the program's goal is to have a positive impact on military children through book donation.
Blue Star Families and Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc. joined forces to bring the joy of reading to military children by donating new books to military-impacted libraries and schools.
"Having free books and being able to promote literacy is terrific," said Bonnie Dong, supervisory librarian at Sgt. Yano Library here.
Tillman distributed books to children at the Sgt. Yano Library, Aug. 4, through the nationwide "Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces" program. She also distributed books at Tripler Army Medical Center, Marine Corps Base Hawaii and the Navy Exchange. About 2,000 books were distributed on the island.
"I like to sit down and read to my kids," said Tiffanie Ward, a military spouse who attended the free program at Sgt. Yano Library with her 4-year-old daughter, Lanah. "At night, I like to read my children bedtime stories to put them to sleep."
According to BSF, the educational impact of library donation is far greater than direct donation to children. These books will provide ongoing support in the effort to promote literacy in America's children.
BSF plans to distribute 25,000 books in 2010; 30,000 in 2011; and 35,000 in 2012 to reach a goal of providing 100,000 books to military children through the "Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces" program.
"For us, it's good to have an event like this to get people in the door that otherwise wouldn't come in," said Amy Nogami, chief of library activities branch, Sgt. Yano Library. "This way they get to see what else we have to offer here."