The children's room at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library has helped Wynn Brown negotiate the sometimes rocky shared-parenting arrangement he has for his son, Lucas Rea.
Lucas, 2, loves the library, and Dad does, too, because of the assistance and support he has received.
Brown, who works in the produce department at Weiland's Market, has his son Mondays and Thursdays, and Lucas' mother, Beth Rea, has him the rest of the week.
"So I'm lost in the woods sometimes," Brown said. "We learned a lot through interactions (during the library's Toddler Time). We kept coming back and coming back.
"He adores this place. He's just starting to speak. He's really shy about it, but he can say library."
Late last month, with Lucas and Rea on hand along with members of Brown's extended family, Brown presented a $1,500 check to library officials in the boy's name. Half of the money is the result of a GoFundMe campaign Brown started to express his gratitude to the library. The other half came from an anonymous donation.
"I'm thrilled," said Kris Hickey, Whetstone branch manager. "It's very generous."
The money will be devoted to youth services, probably in purchasing materials for the kindergarten readiness area, she said.
"We'll get a lot of fun things for families to do together in this space," Hickey said. "It's wonderful to know that we mean so much to people."
The donation is in Lucas' name may make him the youngest benefactor in the history of the library, said Juliann Garrett, stewardship manager for the library foundation.
"He's definitely one of the youngest, if not the youngest," she said. "We're thrilled that one of the youngest members of the community has decided to take up the library as his special cause."
"I grew up coming here," Rea said of the Clintonville branch library. "Wynn has been adamant about bringing Lucas. I think Wynn just really wanted to give back."
Brown's mother, Pat Wynn Brown, said she and her husband, Stephen, are proud of their son.
"In our family, it's important to share and serve," she said. "Teaching Lucas to do this at a young age, it means so much to us. He's so appreciative of this library. It's something he wanted to do for this community.
"It's very moving to me."
Brown said he got the idea for the fundraising effort after a new wooden toy appeared in the children's area. When he asked if it had been paid for through library funds, he was told a parent donated it.
Setting up the GoFundMe account was easy, Brown said. His goal was to bring in $500. The $750 provided in 21 separate donations -- including one from Sara Sauers, granddaughter of James Thurber and a family friend of the Browns -- was a pleasant surprise.
Brown received a cellphone notification whenever a donation was made.
"Every time I heard that ding, I would get so excited," he said. "My blood was up. I really wanted to complete this thing."
The anonymous matching donation was icing on the cake.
Brown said he may make the fundraiser or similar efforts an annual tradition around his son's birthday, May 25.
"It's still in the planning stages," he said.