A Lexington business is offering a $500 reward to anyone who returns the missing box a woman made to memorialize her late husband.
Nicole Breazeale created the Little Free Library in memory of her husband, Phillip Johnson, who died of brain cancer last January. The idea was for passersby to borrow the books, which had inscriptions detailing why each was significant, and then bring them back or return a book of their own that was important to them.
Breazeale put the box in front of her house Monday, but the next day it was gone.
The box was covered with stickers from Johnson’s friends and filled with books that were special to him and his family. One of the stickers was from J&H Outdoors, a locally owned store on Moore Drive.
When the people at J&H Outdoors saw Breazeale’s Facebook status about the missing box, which has been shared more than 3,700 times, they noticed the sticker.
“It really resonated with us how many people in the community cared, even just in our customer base,” said Brett Tweeten, general manager at J&H Outdoors.
The people at the store started talking about how they could help.
“We realized that we can’t replace that,” Tweeten said. So, they decided to offer a reward in hopes it will help bring the box home.
Breazeale said the reward is “incredibly generous.”
“I never in a million years would have expected this much support,” Breazeale said.
The support from the community has helped make everything a little easier, she said.
“I don’t feel alone,” Breazeale said. “I think the box is about trying to promote community, and it’s doing that.”
Since the library has no real monetary value, Breazeale said she believes it must have been taken by mistake.
“Somebody probably thought the box was cool and that the owner no longer wanted it so they took it,” Breazeale said.
Breazeale said she isn’t angry with the person who has the box, and before they return it she encourages them to take the first book.
If the box isn’t returned, Tweeten said the reward money will be used to create more little libraries to place around Lexington.
“Hopefully it doesn’t come to that,” Tweeten said. “But if it does, we want to continue what she originally wanted to do with her own library.”