This centenarian is teaching us that giving truly is better than receiving.

By Melissa Locker
December 03, 2019
Sodalis Senior Living

When Betty X. Davis turned 104, she didn’t want cake or presents. She just wanted books. Specifically, 104 children’s books to donate to a local elementary school with a library in need of some new additions. “That’s very important I think, to get kids [at an early age] to read a book,” Davis told Good Morning America. “There’s a lot you can do with books." So, to mark her milestone birthday, the Buda, Texas, resident kicked off a book drive and the public has responded generously helping her meet and exceed her kind-hearted goal.

This generous act undoubtedly comes as no surprise to those who know Davis. She has worked with children all her life, according to Good Morning America, not only as a mother of eight, but she also put her two master’s degrees to good use working as a speech therapist at a public school.

Her daughter, Virginia Palmer, told GMA that her mother instilled a love of reading and giving back to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. That benevolent spirit continued through her years of work and continued through her recent birthday.

When Davis’s caregivers at the assisted living center wanted to throw her a birthday party, Davis came up with a clever way to give back and share her love of books. “She said she didn’t want a big party or any of that. She just wanted to give back and pay it forward,” said Rachel Grover, life engagement director at Sodalis Buda Assisted  Living and Memory Care told Fox 6 Now. So, on the day of the party, Davis and four of her eight kids, and other friends and family members donated books. Then word spread and strangers started showing up at the center with more books to donate. Davis plans to join her caregivers when they take the donated books from her birthday book drive to a local school around the second week of January. If you would like to contribute to Betty's book drive, you can ship books directly to Sodalis Senior Living at 645 FM 967, Buda, TX 78610.

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This isn’t the first time that Davis’s love of books has put her in the spotlight. Back in 2013, when Davis celebrated 100 years of living, the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators wanted to recognize her with an award. Davis, though, demurred. She asked them instead to create something for future generations. So, the group created The Betty X. Davis Young Writers of Merit Award to honor Davis and pay tribute to her passion for supporting young writers and creating young readers. Each year, three young writers from Austin area elementary, middle, and high schools are honored for their writing abilities. They receive a journal, a gift certificate to a local bookstore, and the high school winner receives a $500 scholarship for college, all as a tribute to Davis and her love of sharing the written word.

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