Book Drive Honoring Local Student Nets 2,000 Donations

Photos courtesy Meredith Swierczynski
Since her death in 2018, the family of Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski has held an annual book drive for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in memory of the Burbank High School student who was rarely seen without a book.

The plan was to go to the post office.
In late fall, Burbank resident Meredith Swierczynski and her family planned to commemorate her daughter, Evelyn, by collecting donated packages of books and bringing them to a storage unit to be organized, as had been done for the past two years.
Evelyn, or “Evie,” was a Burbank High School student and an avid reader before her death, caused by leukemia, on Oct. 30, 2018. Since then, her family has held an annual book drive to collect donations for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where the 15-year-old was treated after her diagnosis. Part of that ritual is going to the post office to pick up donations.
This year, the post office called them.
You need to come and pick up the packages — today, a worker said; there isn’t any more space to hold them. About a week into the book drive, the Swierczynskis had received at least 150 packages, according to Meredith. She and her family — which includes her husband, Duane, and son, Parker — spent the day opening boxes and reading notes that had been included in them. Complete strangers sent dozens of books.
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Book Drive Honoring ‘Evie’ Benefits Young Patients

Photos courtesy Meredith Swierczynski
An annual book drive is being held in memory of Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski, a Burbank High School student who died of leukemia in 2018. Reading, which was one of her joys, became especially important when she was a patient at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, whose Literally Healing program provided her with books while she underwent treatment.

Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski loved to read.
Wendy Vargas, assistant principal at John Muir Middle School, where Evie attended 8th grade, said she always had a book in her hand. Her mother, Meredith, said she often had a stack of tomes nearby.
Evie still loved books when she was at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, having been diagnosed with leukemia just after finishing her freshman year at Burbank High School, where she was in the theater program, in 2018. Even when the chemotherapy made concentrating on reading hard, Meredith Swierczynski said, she and the rest of the family appreciated having them.
Staff members and volunteers with the hospital’s Child Life program would bring Evie DVDs, games and crafts, while the CHLA Literally Healing program provided a new book every day. The latter was a particularly encouraging initiative, Swierczynski said in a phone interview. When Evie was in treatment and couldn’t leave her room on some days, a volunteer could come in wearing a gown and gloves and offer her a book.

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