Book fair brings summer reading to Candelaria children

CANDELARIA – A grassroots book fair came to remote Candelaria last week, so student residents of the south Presidio County border community may have some summer reading enjoyment.

“It was a great success,” said Joel Nuñez, the Presidio ISD Department of Public Safety Chief of Police and Presidio County Chief Deputy Sheriff who helped organize the event.

“It was brought to our attention that Candelaria children don’t have access to reading materials during the summer,” Nuñez said. “So we decided to host a book fair to give away books for their reading pleasure to continue during the summer.”

Candelaria is a remote community located about 45 miles west and upriver from Presidio on the FM 170 River Road along the border with Mexico. There used to be a small school there – where the book fair was held – but Candelaria students now travel by bus to Presidio every day to attend classes. Candelaria students range from kindergarteners to high school.

That Candelaria kids needed some books to read came to light when sheriff’s deputies patrolling the town were alerted to suspicious activity at the old school. There, they “captured” two “book burglars” who had entered the schoolhouse through an open window. Caught red-handed, the two small children said that was the only place to get books, and “we just wanted to read.”

Word spread about the “break-in” and then-Juvenile Probation Officer Dina Jo Losoya Marquez got involved. The event was supported by and organized by several people and entities. Books were donated by the Marfa Public Library, and titles included educational to fiction and a few “how to” books.”

“Thank you, Maggie Marquez and Arlene Conners from Marfa Public Library for your generous contribution,” said Nuñez.

During the event, the children of Candelaria were also treated to hot dogs, chips and drinks, courtesy of school officers and volunteers.

“Thank you for your contributions and making this event successful, including Ethel Barriga and First Presidio Bank; Superintendent Ray Vasquez, PHS Teens in Prevention; the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office; and Dina Jo Losoya-Marquez,” said Nuñez. “It’s great to see communities come together for the children. Thank you.”