AVILLA, Mo. — Friends of the US Army Cleveland Recruiting Battalion recently donated $1,000 in rare and out-of-print children’s books and reading incentives to the Avilla R-13 School District.
LTC David P. Barlet commands the Cleveland Recruiting Battalion, which spans Ohio and Pennsylvania. LTC Barlet and his wife Melissa headed the charity effort in memory of their 7-year-old niece, Landree Heese, who died in a car accident on Feb. 2, 2013.
Scott Blake, outgoing superintendent at Avilla R-13, said the donations couldn’t have come at a better time. A pipe flood recently devastated the small country school library, a 1970s addition to the original structure, built in the 1880s.
The library remains closed for repairs. Blake said that while most of the their book inventory escaped damage, the library’s technology wing desperately needs updating. He envisions new computers with thin monitors that do not take up desk space, and wireless internet to connect young minds to global education opportunities, such as lesser known scholarships.
Each literary donation bears a book plate that reads, “This book belongs to Landree Heese,” along with the donor’s name.
The books arrived from all over the nation, sent by military families and their friends. Also included was a title about service animals, given on behalf of Rachel, a service dog of Landree’s acquaintance.
The books, thoughtfully selected for young readers about subjects in remembrance of Landree, included titles on nature, science, crafts, cooking, stimulators of imagination, and leaving the world a better place than we find it – a gift in which young Landree excelled. Among the donations were several books for young people about dealing with the loss of a loved one. LTC and Mrs. Barlet describe their niece as outgoing and imaginative. “In an age of school bullying, Landree’s enduring spirit continues to brighten the playground and halls of this school. Investing in Avilla School in memory of Landree is a celebration of her life and legacy.”
If you would like to contribute to Avilla School Library repairs and technology updates in memory of Landree Heese, please send your generous donations (checks only, please) to:
Avilla R-13 School Library-Technology Donations in Memory of Landree Heese
Attention: Superintendent Brad Byers
PO Box 7
Avilla, MO 64833
Also in Landree Heese's name, family members and volunteers worked late last month to install a new swingset, purchased with funds raised by the Jasper County Public Administrator's office, where Stasia Heese, Landree's mother works.
The two-swing set stands out from the other play items on the playground because it is pink and yellow.
“The people here in the office started raising money to put in a bench or something in honor of Landree, but I decided I wanted something different,” Stasia Heese said. “The kids will get to play on this and I thought it was a fitting memorial to Landree.”
Page 2 of 2 - Stasia Heese said plans are to put a plaque and possible a small statue of an angel on top of the swingset sometime in the near future as money allows.