A Little Free Library recently installed outside Evening Street Elementary School in Worthington was "a labor of love" for a former student and now is a tribute to her family, said principal Mary Rykowski.
The Little Free Library is a popular movement based on the community sharing of books.
More information about the trend is available at littlefreelibrary.org, but in a nutshell, the wooden box holds books that anyone can borrow, with a "take-a-book, return-a-book" philosophy. Books are donated and have no due dates.
In addition, it can be used whether school is in session or not because the structure is never locked.
"The idea generated from a Girl Scout troop," Rykowski said. "Charlotte Helm, a member of the troop at the time, enlisted the help of the best craftsmen she knew, her dad and grandpa."
Charlotte and the girls in Girl Scout Troop 2733 painted the little library box and added donated books.
"The lending library is now the troop's legacy to Evening Street," Rykowski said. "It is also a true representation of a community coming together to make a vision a reality."
Charlotte's mom, Tracey Trgovac, also said the library was a "labor of love" for Charlotte, now a seventh-grader at Kilbourne Middle School, and her late husband, Paul Helm, who died in March at age 53.
She said both her children, Charlotte, 12 and Eddie, 14, still love going to the "woodshop" at Kendal at Oberlin, a retirement community in northern Ohio where Paul's parents, Jim and Anne, reside.
"They call it the 'shood whop' and typically spend a lot of time there when they go to visit their grandparents," she said.
Trgovac said her husband "could do anything and fix anything."
"I used to call my husband 'MacGyver,' " she said. "He was such a good problem-solver and could fix anything with just things he had on hand.
"I cannot even begin to tell you how much we miss him. We miss him so much in so many ways, but not having someone who can fix things and figure things out when they break is difficult, though the kids are both trying to pick up the slack there."
Charlotte said it was "fun" to work on the library with her dad.
"I remember looking at the knobs with my dad and installing them, then painting it with my troop," she said.
Her mom said Charlotte appears to have inherited her dad's "fix-it" skills.
"I saw that the neighbors were putting together a swing set and told Charlotte," Trgovac said. "Without a word, she shot out the back to door to go help.
"They later came over to thank us with a gift card and told me there was no way they could have done it without her. Patience, persistence and perseverance are definitely Helm qualities that were passed along to my kids."
Trgovac said the library project started almost two years ago, but was delayed when her husband was diagnosed with cancer in November 2015.
"He fought bravely for 16 months, but died in March," she said.
She said Girl Scout Troop 2733 was an Evening Street troop that began when the girls were in kindergarten and continued through fifth grade before it was disbanded.
Trgovac was one of the troop leaders for a few years, then had to drop out to care for her husband.
"Paul came to one of the meetings and did some sketches with the girls," she said. "Once we had the original building plan, we decided the construction would be done by Charlotte, her dad and her Grandpa, since they had the interest and knowledge in woodworking."
The Little Free Library was completed and painted in January last year but installation was delayed.
Caught up with caring for her husband last year, Trgovac said, she sent emails periodically to see if another troop could take over the library project and get it installed at the school.
"My husband was very handy and definitely would have been able to install it himself, but he got too sick and couldn't do it," she said.
Rykowski said Evening Street fathers Corey Fidler and Lowell Morrow recently finished the installation of the library in front of the school.