The Altona Lagoon Book Club began in February 2021 with six individuals and has grown to 15 members. The group meets on an arbitrary Tuesday at 2 p.m. once a month for one hour to discuss the book they’ve read.
Altona Lagoon is one of St. Croix’s “best-kept secrets” just beyond the Gallows Bay Dock. One can see folks walking, cycling, picnicking, practicing yoga, fishing, and working out on the new exercise equipment funded through AARP.
The covered pavilion is the “nesting place’ for many activities, and the Altona Lagoon Book Club fancies it as the perfect spot to read and discuss their chosen monthly book, club president Leonor Gillette said.
The club had a desire to “pay their love of books forward” to an elementary school. Members donated money and chose Juanita Gardine as the recipient school.
A meeting with the school librarian resulted in a list of books that the K-8 students would like to read.
The Club agreed to purchase at Undercover Books & Gifts in Gallows Bay, but the cost exceeded the dollar amount they collected. Gillette’s daughter suggested seeking a matching donation, and Gillette asked her former student Keith O’Neale of O’Neale’s Transport, Inc. O’Neale came aboard, the books were ordered, and upon receipt of the shipment, a donation date of March 18 was planned.
On March 18, the Altona Lagoon Book Club members, Juanita Gardine principal Barbara McGregor, assistant principals Sherna Concepcion and Anna Marie Gordon, and several school children assembled for the book donation and picture taking. The looks in the eyes of the children’s masked faces reflected sheer delight as they scanned the colorful, graphically-designed books spread across the table.
Gillette said to the students, “We like to read, and we want to encourage all of you to read.” Students affirmed that they do like to read and felt good about getting the donation of books. “The Wimpy Kid Series Book” was well-liked, and “Katie the Cat Sitter” was a hit. Seven-year-old first-grader Xi’yahnaia Jn’Baptiste liked the book with the two dragons, he said.
“We’re excited to have new books in our library this year. We’ve had donations before, but not in a long time. The students will be excited to see all the graphics. They’ll love it,” Concepcion said.
Gordon said, “We are really grateful for this privilege of having these books – especially since our students are coming out of the pandemic, where there have been all things online, on phones, and iPads. But now, having a book, they can hold in their hands afresh and just be re-introduced to the written word – I think it’s powerful. We trust that they will definitely fall in love with the library again. We are grateful to our librarian Ms. Janice Ferdinand who helped give the listing of books to Ms. Gillette that would be of interest to our students. So, we are grateful to the book club for the work that they have done.”
There are plans to begin organizing in November and going forward with another book donation to another local school library, Gilette said. “We are grateful to Keith O’Neale and Undercover Books & Gifts for helping us make this donation possible.”
The Altona Lagoon Book Club members who attended Friday’s donation meeting are Leonor Gillette, Gail Quinn, Marjorie Robbins, Susan Ross, and Raeleyn Campbell.
For more information and for book donations: