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Hildreth helping children to read

It’s amazing how many people see a need and quietly act on it, most of the time with very little fanfare.

That is exactly what happened while Madeline Hildreth was volunteering at the John L. Fischer Center. She loves books and believes that every home should have a few to enjoy. That is not always possible. Extra money that comes into a home is usually needed for other things and books get left out.

“I got the idea of placing books outside the John L. Fischer Center for the children to stop by and borrow a book to read,” Hildreth said. “I saw something like this somewhere else and thought it would be good at the center.”

She talked to the Friends of the Library and they thought it would be a good idea, so she approached the publisher at The Brewton Standard, Stephanie Snodgrass, about using one of the newspaper racks to hold the books.

“Lots of people thought it would not work because nothing was in place to make sure that the books were returned,” Hildreth said. “But if that happens, that book is still in the home and maybe someone else will read it. I checked the book rack in front of the center and it looks as if the books have changed so it is working the way it is supposed to. Get a book, read it and return it to the rack. If you have books to share, leave them in the rack too. Right now all we have are children’s books, but we may be able to offer adult books at some point.”

A person who is interested in borrowing a book can do so, even when the center is closed, and the rack can be found at the center’s front door. There are many different things going on at the center and this is one of the things that Hildreth thought she could do.

“I love to read and it makes me happy to know that others do too,” she said. “I encourage the children to stop and get a book, read it and bring it back. If they have books, we welcome the exchange. The whole idea is to get children to read and enjoy what they read. If life isn’t perfect, a book is a wonderful escape.”

Hildreth doesn’t devote all of her time to the book program.

“We planted a garden, a big garden, on the center grounds and made all kinds of vegetables. It’s educational too. It’s interesting to plant a seed and see what happens.

She volunteers at the center as well as at Comfort Care Hospice. She retired early, but she said she was not the type to sit at home and do nothing, so she is now using her time helping others.

Hildreth was born and raised in Marengo County and graduated from Marengo County High School in 1977. She entered Auburn University and went on to earn her degree in forestry.

“I have always loved the outdoors,” she said. “I also had an uncle who was a forest ranger, so I thought that would be a good fit.”

She moved to Monroe County with her work and then met Jim Hildreth. They eventually married and moved to Brewton, his home town, more than 30 years ago. They have two children, James and Abe.

After 25 years of working in forestry, she retired early and spends her time doing the things she enjoys. She works with the Prime Timers, the older members of their church, First United Methodist Church of Brewton. She loves to travel and is planning a trip to Israel with a group headed by their previous pastor, Dr. Ed Glaize.

“I love to travel and have been all over the United States,” she said. “I went to Maine to see the trees with all their fall colors and I loved San Francisco. Jim likes to travel so we do some together, but we also like to see different things, so he has a friend that he travels with sometimes. I think I do the travel thing much better than he does.”