First Lady Makes Surprise Announcement At Biloxi School

Rusty Hunt works from a small corner in Beauvoir Elementary's school library in Biloxi. Hurricane Katrina kicked him out of his brand new library at Gorenflo Elementary and ruined his precious collection of 13,000 books.

"Book shelves were moved around and thrown around and it was a huge mess," said Rusty Hunt. "I did not go in, because I was afraid of what it would do to me to see it destroyed."

Hunt's story touched the hearts of members of the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries. So on Wednesday morning, the First Lady walked into the gutted Gorenflo library to make a surprise announcement.

"Today, Gorenflo is receiving a grant from the Laura Bush Foundation, which will help Rusty restore the library he so lovingly built," said Laura Bush.

Gorenflo Elementary will get $50,000 to buy new library books. The grant money will also go to two schools in Hancock County. Second Street Elementary will receive $10,000 and North Bay Elementary will get $20,000.

"In every act of rebuilding, especially of schools, we see endurance and hope," said Mrs. Bush. "With the grants awarded today, the foundation is nurturing hope throughout this region. These grants will bring books back to libraries. Rebuilt libraries will bring children back to their schools."

For displaced librarian, Rusty Hunt, the donation means a new, brighter chapter in Gorenflo's future.

"I wasn't expecting to get the grant, so I was surprised that I did," Hunt said. "It wasn't until getting the grant that I actually could see that I was going to have a library again, and the kids are going to have books."

Seven schools in the New Orleans area also received money from the Laura Bush Library Foundation. The First Lady says the next round of grants will be announced at the end of the summer. She's encouraging all schools that need to rebuild their libraries to apply. Click here to learn more about the application process.