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Boro girl’s feelings on 9/11 attacks published in book

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He received so many letters that his wife, first lady Libby Pataki, decided to put together a book with Wilson Kimball to show how much children...

By Alex Davidson

Children worldwide wrote hundreds of thousands of letters to the Gov. George Pataki last year after Sept.11.

He received so many letters that his wife, first lady Libby Pataki, decided to put together a book with Wilson Kimball to show how much children help people through times of tragedy by just being themselves.

So over the last year, Pataki and Kimball narrowed the hundreds of thousands of letters, drawings and poems down to just 100.

And last week Kimberly Papa, an 11-year-old who was in fifth grade last year at PS 232 in Howard Beach, found out that her letter was one of those 100 selected and that Libby Pataki was personally coming to congratulate her.

“I was surprised,” Kimberly said. “We were donating money to the World Trade Center Relief Fund and just wanted a letter to go along with it.”

Kimberly’s letter is included in “Letters to New York: Children Speak Out,” the third children’s book by Pataki and Wilson.

Libby Pataki visited PS 232 Friday as part of a citywide book tour aimed at thanking children for letters they wrote to the governor after the attack on the World Trade Center. She emphasized the role children play in helping adults cope during a difficult time.

“It’s very comforting to know that we’re all reaching out to each other,” she said. “It’s a very emotional time. I wanted to thank (the children) for their passionate letters they wrote to my husband.”

Libby Pataki said reading the letters was a very sad process. She said the book, however, is meant to show the positive feelings children exhibited after Sept. 11.

“This book is about courage and honor,” she said. “The voices of children express things parents cannot sometimes express.”

Lisa Koller, Kimberly’s former teacher, initiated the class activity to submit letters to the governor’s office.

“There was the idea to hold a bake sale after Sept. 11 and then send the money to the relief fund,” she said. “After we got the money, each student was assigned to write a letter to the governor.”

The students then read all the letters and decided Kimberly’s would be the one to accompany the donation, Koller said. Koller said she researched charities on the Internet and decided on the World Trade Center Relief Fund. And a year later Kimberly got the chance to read her letter aloud to the school next to Libby Pataki.

“This is so cool,” Kimberly said.

Libby Pataki thanked Kimberly for being brave and for writing to her husband. She went on to emphasize the reason for her book and visit.

“I am here especially to thank the children,” she said.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said Libby Pataki’s remarks made it a “proud day for PS 232.”

“Choosing Kim’s letter has been very uplifting and a positive thing for our schools,” he said. “Now we need to take the positive effects and keep it going on to the hereafter.”

No one could agree more than school principal Norann McManus.

“This was a very special event for the school, it was great excitement,” she said. “But this couldn’t have been done without the help of every parent and teacher who pitched in.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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