CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — A young woman, killed in a car crash nearly two decades ago, lives on in memory through children’s books. Each year, her mother donates hundreds of books in her honor.
It was 19 years ago that 17-year-old Tiffany Leonard was on her way to school at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids, when she was killed in a car crash.
“I thought on her year anniversary, I needed to do something special,” her mother, Tanya Heintz, said.
Every year since then, Heintz has donated hundreds of books to the UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital at the Women’s & Children’s Center.
“Tiffany used to sit on her back deck and read to the neighbor boys and her sister, so I know she would like that,” Heintz said.
On Thursday night, Heintz unloaded more than 500 books from the trunk of her car for the hospital. To date, she has donated more than 10,000 books.
“Books are so important to kids, and everyone needs books,” she said.
Staff at the center have come to rely on Heintz and said it has been a big help for patients and their families.
“It’s a good distraction for kids when they’re here, and it’s a good distraction also for the first floor for labor and delivery. A lot of times, families may come in the middle of the night or at an unexpected time that they have to bring kids with them, so it’s nice to be able to have something to give to siblings,” Patient Liaison, Denise Cook, said.
Inside the donated books is a photo of Tiffany, with the name of the family that gave the book to Heintz. Heintz said it keeps her daughter’s memory alive through other children.
“It helps with that so much, and it has helped me with the grieving process so much because when you do something nice, it feels so good,” Heintz said.
The children can, and are encouraged to, take the books home to keep.
In the 19 years of doing this, Heintz has never been recognized for her kind act, which goes to show she doesn’t do it for the recognition. She does it for the kids and her daughter, Tiffany.
Heintz said the donations would not be possible without the help of her family, friends and co-workers.