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Book drive honoring late Burbank High student exceeds expectations again

Team Evie book drive
Meredith Swierczynski and Kyle Horne, manager of the Literally Healing project, stand near a collection of more than 2,000 books during a local book drive in honor of Evie Swierczynski.
(Courtesy of Meredith Swierczynski)

The family of Burbank High School student Evie Swierczynski continues to keep her memory alive by providing access to more than 2,000 new books to patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The sophomore died at the age of 15 after battling acute myeloid leukemia in the fall of 2018. During that same year, the Swierczynski family brought in a donation of 1,000 books through a book drive they organized. They held a second drive this past fall, hoping to collect double that amount.

Team Evie book drive
Evie Swierczynski spending time at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the oncology unit.
(Courtesy of Meredith Swierczynski)

“We were shocked by the number of box sets that we received,” said Evie’s mother, Meredith.

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A mystery specialty bookstore located in Texas called Murder by the Book partnered with the local drive. They collected almost 200 books. The store owner, McKenna Jordan, is a Swierczynski family friend and followed Evie’s story.

“Her story, her life has touched a lot of people and anything that we could do to keep her name and her spirit alive — we’re going to keep trying to do,” Meredith Swierczynski said.

Donations, in person and through an Amazon wish list, were sent to Darling Nikki Salon or Dark Delicacies horror bookstore — two locations Evie and her family frequently patronized. The books were donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Literally Healing program, which gives every child in the medical facility a new book every day.

Evie loved reading and often had a book in her hand. When she was a patient, a familiar comfort was being greeted by a volunteer from Literally Healing.

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The program’s project manager Kyle Horne wrote in a letter to the family that Literally Healing gave children more than 65,000 new books in 2019. A new addition to the program included the ability for family members and caregivers to also choose and keep one free new book or magazine per day.

Team Evie book drive
The Swierczynski family, in collaboration with Burbank businesses, donated books to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Dec. 14.
(Courtesy of Meredith Swierczynski)

Other than book donations, the Swierczynski family also hosts an annual blood drive in July — Evie’s birthday month. They plan to formally set up the Evelyn Swierczynski Foundation as a nonprofit organization and continue expanding events and services.

On Feb. 29, Evie will be honored through a toy drive benefiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in partnership with PFLAG during the LGBTQ organization’s conference.

Robert Peterson, PFLAG’s regional director and board member, said he decided to “keep her spirit and her memory alive by channeling her energy and positivity, helping the community outside of the LGBT community.

He added, “It’s not necessarily LGBT but something that can impact LGBT families just as much as any other family.”

Meredith Swierczynski is involved in the Burbank chapter of PFLAG and said the organization was important to Evie because she was an ally for her LGBTQ friends who were bullied on campus.

“We hadn’t been living in this community for very long. We relocated from Pennsylvania, and we’re just finding how open and generous Burbank is, and we’re very grateful and thankful for their support,” she said.

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