If you’ve ever had to sit in the waiting room at your doctor’s office, you know how painful that wait can be. Whether it’s 15 minutes, half an hour or longer….it can seem forever.
VA volunteer Anita McAllister found a way for Veterans and their family members or caregivers to beat those waiting blues. McAllister and Voluntary Service Assistant Sharon Ladner came up with an idea of a rolling book cart. Once the idea was hatched, the rest fell into place easily.
“I am very active in the community and I knew once people knew what we were trying to do and who it was for, we would have no problem getting books donated,” McAllister said. And she was right. The Ocean Springs Library donated five huge boxes of books. It was enough to get started.
McAllister is a member of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 42. Last year she served as the state president. She and five other ladies in the unit agreed this was a very worthwhile project. They have been offering free books and magazines for just about a year now and based on the feedback she receives from patrons, the rolling book cart is a huge success.
The book cart is located at the MyHealtheVet office in the outpatient clinic area at the Biloxi VA Medical Center on Wednesdays and Thursdays. All books are free to any Veteran, their family members, and their caregivers.
Making it happen (photo above) are (L to R): Linda Doeden, Louise Butler, Anita McAllister, Melissa Rivera, Faye Jackson and Thelma Doby.
Patients return books and bring others to donate
Patrons can keep the books but McAllister finds that many Veterans not only return the books they get off the cart, they also bring other books to donate.
“We had over 1,000 books donated,” McAllister said. “Veterans love our cart, we hear thank you every day.”
Recently, the volunteers started taking the rolling book cart up to the 4th floor, to the inpatient hospital area. That, too, has been well received.
McAllister has been a volunteer at the Biloxi VA Medical Center for the past seven years. She and her group also offer cookies and coffee on the days they volunteer.
“We enjoy the conversation with Veterans. You can learn so much history from hearing their stories. Our hope is that they get as much out of our interactions as we do. Our hearts are filled,” she said.
About the author: Mary Kay Gominger works in the Public Affairs Office of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System