HOLLAND, MICH. - More and more often, you're seeing them in more and more places -- Little Free Libraries.
They're those oversized-mailbox looking structures that could be the perfect home for a Keebler elf, allowing people take and drop-off books. But two Little Free Libraries in the Holland area share a story all their own.
In the open garage of a hidden home, Brenda Vanderwege and her son, Chase, are building something.
"We're doing something good in a world where there's so much bad," Vanderwege said. "I love coming home and finding it empty.
"Best thing in the world."
Just down the driveway, is their complete, first attempt of a Little Free Library: full of books and stories, free for anyone to grab as their walking by.
Even some water for their dogs.
"I love the idea of getting books to everybody all the time," Vanderwege said.
Brenda had the idea years ago and considered building one with her husband, Jeff.
"We talked about it," she said. "Had a discussion of how cool it is -- and that's where it stopped."
"Well, he was sick," Vanderwege said. "So, building it at that time was something that was not going to happen."
Jeff died from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, in 2012. Sometime later, she came across leftover material of the house she and Jeff had built and lived in together for so many years.
"When I saw that stack of wood, I had the inspiration," Vanderwege said.
That wood is the primary product in her passion project. Most of the rest has been donated: donated Plexiglas, more lumber, the books themselves, even the nameplate inscribed with her late husband's name -- all donated.
Vanderwege and her children continue to build. For friends, family, kids who no longer have full-time librarians in the schools, and for total strangers.
And as they build, in her husband's old shop, she says the experience is not bittersweet.
"There have been a number when we've said to ourselves, 'What would dad do?'" Vanderwege said.
It is a joyful story, with a happy ending.
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