PITTSBURG — Valerie Smith and her nephew, Cole Bartlow, carried 69 books into the Family Resource Center last month.

Bartlow is a pre-kindergarten student who attends the center, so when Smith — who works as an independent consultant for Usborne Books and More — was looking for a way to give back to the community, she couldn’t think of a better place.

“I was looking for a way to do something for the community for the end of the year,” Smith said. “My nephew attends the center, so I reached out to Ann [Elliott] and asked if she would like some free books.”

Smith started an online fundraiser to raise money for the books and reached out to friends and family to help. Usborne agreed to match 50 percent of the money she raised, as well as provide the books.

Smith raised $400 through donations, bringing the total — with Usborne’s contribution — to $600 for brand new books. Donations were received from Mag Lab — Gary and Jeannie Peterson — Etta Smith, Valerie Smith, Usborne Books & More, Cody Thorn, Amanda David, Wendy Duchene and an anonymous donor.

Bartlow also made a donation.

“Cole picked out a book that he wanted to donate himself to his own classroom at the center,” Smith said. “So he got the book and paid me for it.”

Smith said the center receives grant money each year for some books, but is always in need of new reading and learning materials.

The center has seven preschool and daycare rooms, along with 13 classrooms serving children from infants to five years old. In total, the center provides care and education for over 430 area children.

“It was a great way to wrap up the year and give back,” Smith said.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.