Seeing Life Clearly

Celia Barrett is the head librarian in Gulfport, Miss. — not that you'd find the library without the solid marble sign in front. Barrett says Hurricane Katrina checked out 30,000 books and every lick of furniture in the Gulfport library. It will take a mammoth effort to rebuild. But fortunately, as CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports, someone is leading the charge.

That someone is 11-year-old Kelsie Buckley, who raised more than $9,000 in pledges for Gulfport's library by riding her horse halfway across the state of Mississippi.

"This fundraiser she put on for the libraries was just amazing," says Barrett.

"I just wanted to help," says Kelsie, who's planning more fundraisers — just for libraries.

Why libraries? "Books help you get your mind off of any bad things that are going on," she says.

Kelsie would know more than a little about bad things. She and her parents lost their home in the storm, too. They now live in a FEMA trailer. Her reaction: "We need to focus on the other people who need our help."

Obviously, selfless doesn't begin to describe her.


To learn more about Kelsie's Books, or to make a donation visit:

www.kelsiesbooks.net


Kelsie's goal is to raise $10,000 for every Mississippi library destroyed by Katrina. There were seven. That's $70,000 — a lot of books, especially for a girl who may never get to read a single one of them.

Kelsie has lovely brown eyes, but they don't work well. "The left eye is just, blah," she says, and the right one is no better. That's because she has a rare disease that sometimes gets better — but usually gets worse, often ending in total blindness. To which she says: enough about that.

"She doesn't want to worry about the what-ifs," her mom says. "Of course it bothers her. But she says it takes the enjoyment out of today if you worry about tomorrow."

For now, all Kelsie cares about is saving as many libraries as she can and reading as many books while she can. Her foundation, Kelsie's Books helps raise money for large-print books.

Will Kelsie be angry if she goes completely blind and can't see any more books? No way. "I won't be mad," she says. "I might cry a little. But I'll keep on going."

If only we could all see life so clearly.

  • John Kreiser

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