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Donors replenish books lost to meth

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ARLEE – It isn’t yet known how methamphetamine residue made its way into the Arlee Head Start Center over a month ago, but the contamination caused the facility to lose their book collection.

“We are doing everything we can to remediate the areas where a low level of residue was found,” said Head Start Director Jeanne Christopher. “The Head Start program on the reservation is a quality program despite this unfortunate happening. I trust my staff. I know they are not smoking meth.”

The level of residue was low, so the facility was closed and cleaned. Everything that couldn’t be scrubbed was thrown out, which included a book collection that took forty years to accumulate. 

“The special cleaning agent that was used would have destroyed the pages,” she said. “There was no way to clean them.”

Lolita Hendrickson is a retired Head Start teacher, and she currently has a grandchild in the Arlee Head Start program. She volunteered to organize the book drive held in the Brown Building on Wednesday. Several individuals and businesses donated books.

“They like to have books available for the children at all times,” she said of teachers at the Head Start Center. “Toddlers will find a book they like and they want it read a lot.”

People from as far away as New Jersey stepped in to help when they heard about the lost book collection for children from ages 0 to 5.

“Tell them I’m a book-loving Jersey Shore girl,” was written in a note inside a box of books one woman donated, according to volunteer Paula Wofford.

Wofford estimated that 200 books were donated during the event.

“We received gift certificates, too, “ she said. “The kids will have something to read now.”

Christopher hopes the facility is ready for the children to return in the next few weeks, but the new paint needs to dry along with a few more tasks. She said that space at a nearby church was utilized for the program during the clean-up.

Donations for clothing, furniture and books are still being accepted; call (406) 676-4509. 

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