Overwhelmed by grief, Linda Carr Kraft turned her pain into a purpose

Posted at 4:19 PM, Oct 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-26 16:19:48-04

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Old family photos of Linda Carr Kraft and her sister Diana keep sweet memories alive. In recent years, The Powhatan woman struggled with the pain of losing her sister and longed for a way to turn her pain into purpose. The day a meaningful mission gripped her heart, she knew what she wanted to do.

"It’s a micro charity I started four years ago in honor of my sister, Dr. Diana Carr," Linda Carr-Kraft, founder of Diana's Bookshelf, said. "She loved books. When she passed away, she had over 3,000 books in her house, and she would read a book a day. She was a very generous person, so I thought what can I do to get over the overwhelming grief."

She created Diana’s Bookshelf, a labor of love that took Carr Kraft back to her youth when she too first discovered the magic of books and a love of reading.

"I used to sit up until 3 o’clock in the morning with the bathroom light reading. It was such a great part of my growing up and made me who I am," she said. "I want to pass that love of reading and excitement about a book. You know when you are doing something, and you think I just want to finish this so I can go read my book! That’s the excitement that I want to pass on that I think my sister would have loved."

The goal? Every October, around her sister’s birthday, collect hundreds and hundreds of brand new books to fill Diana’s Bookshelf and ultimately bless children with the donations.

"Started off small just getting books for kids. New books. I insist they be new because if you are going to get your very first book, it should be new, right?" she said. "So, then we donate them to Comfort Cases and they send new backpacks all over the country and Canada for kids going into foster care and they have pajamas, and toiletries, and a new book."

Carr Kraft said the group is looking for community members to donate books. They’re in desperate need of chapter books for young adults.

One easy way to give is to search for Diana’s Bookshelf wish list on Amazon.

"I want to say thanks for being such an inspiration to my big sister and teaching me I can do anything I want to do," Carr Kraft said. "She was one of the first women to become an orthopedic surgeon and the fact that she said nothing’s going to stop me, she really instilled that in me, and this is part of that."

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