Giving A Gift

An author with ties to Western New York has donated more than 400 books to Jamestown Public Schools.

Nila J. Webster, author of the children’s book ”The Gift Of You, The Gift of Me,” has made the book donation to every third-grade student in the school district.

Jamestown isn’t the only school district to receive the donation. According to Webster, last year she lost her mother poet jani johe webster – who spelled her name in all lowercase – who was from Rochester. To honor her mother, Webster wanted to donate the book to young students. The first district she approached was Rochester, which accepted the donation.

Once Rochester accepted the donations, Webster said she approached her mother’s hometown of Binghamton and Johnson City, whose school leadership also accepted the books for their third graders.

”Then I began thinking of the towns and cities my mother and I would drive through on our way to visit my grandmother, who lived in Binghamton, and I wanted to light up the route with our picture books – from small townships like Romulus and Vestal to larger cities like Auburn and Union-Endicott (Central School District),” she said. ”I have also donated picture books to all the third-graders of Boston, where I now reside, and Washington, D.C., near where my father lives.”

Webster said she approached Jamestown in March because her father spent third grade in Jamestown, and always had special memories of that time.

”’The Gift of You, The Gift of Me’ is about courage, friendship and gratitude, all qualities which help us through elementary school, and through life itself,” she said.

Webster said she is dying of cancer and wants to donate 100,000 books through the grassroots movement.

”I was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010, yet continue to do well, and I hope my story can give courage and positive energy to others whose lives cancer has touched,” she said.

To celebrate Webster’s thoughtful gift, Lincoln Elementary School first- and third-grade students participated in a special activity on Tuesday. Each third-grade student read the book to a first-grade student. Also, in Julie Strong’s third-grade class, the children participated in an art project by making book markers. At Lincoln Elementary, Strong estimated between 55-60 students received one of Webster’s books.

”It is so gracious of her,” Strong said about the donation. ”It is a very nice thing she has done.”

The tale is about a little creature named Jamile and of his enduring friendship with the trees at the end of the lane, whose meditations on life offer hope and courage, both to the hero of the story and to its readers. Written as a picture book, the story is a source of inspiration for both young people and adults. Beautifully illustrated by George M. Ulrich, this book is a pictorial tribute to nature. It is also a poetic vision on the power of gratitude and love in the face of the sorrows of life.