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Boy who received thousands of books shares the wealth

SANDY — It isn’t unusual for the Salt Lake County Library to get book donations. But a generous offer from a 12-year-old boy has generated a lot of buzz.

“The response is just incredible, and it’s very heartwarming to see,” said Greg Near, public relations coordinator for the Salt Lake County Library.

Equally heartwarming was how Mathew Flores received the books.

Mathew loves to read but didn’t have many books of his own, the Deseret News reported in July. When mail carrier Ron Lynch first met him, Mathew was reading junk mail.

So Lynch posted the boy’s picture on Facebook and asked his friends to donate.

Soon, books arrived for Mathew from all over the world.

Mathew’s story also touched the manager of the Salt Lake County Library’s Sandy branch, who gave Mathew a library card.

“The response was so overwhelming to the story that went viral about him wanting to have materials to read, that he ended up with more than he knew what to do with,” Near said.

Mathew donated about 3,500 books that were piled high in his family’s apartment and on their back deck.

“Because the materials that came in were for all age groups and reading levels, we were able to share the wealth,” Near said.

The books will go to various facilities and county organizations that need them, he said.

One of them is the Byington Library in the South Main Clinic in South Salt Lake, which offers health care to low-income families.

“A lot of the families that come here, some of them are refugee populations that don’t have set home addresses, or there are homeless families that come here that don’t have set addresses,” said library assistant Stephanie Anderson.

Anderson is passionate about books and getting kids to read.

“We want to get books in their homes so their kids can connect with books young and get that love of reading,” she said.

Each child whose family has an appointment at the clinic can take a book home, Anderson said, adding that she gives away about 1,000 books a month and the number goes up during the summer months.

“This library wouldn’t be possible without help from all of the people who donated to us,” she said.

Books will also go to The Road Home shelter, Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services, Juvenile Justice Services locations, and the Salt Lake County Jail, which has a full-service library for inmates.

Email: syi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: KSL_SandraYi