GEORGE — It’s not that unusual to find Shree Saini in a library.
Granted, the current Miss India Worldwide just spent the last 16 years of her life in school, recently graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Washington. So it would make sense that she has spent her fair share of time, and probably more, in libraries.
But that’s not why she was in George last week evening.
“I live in George, my parents own a business here,” she said.
That business, of course, is the giant truck stop just off Interstate 90 that bears her name.
Saini arrived in sash and crown to donate 32 backpacks to the George Public Library for kids throughout the summer. And she plans to come back, as her busy schedule allows, to read to the kids who gather in this library nearly every day they are open.
“I had the same backpack all four years of college, and hopefully they will come in handy for these kids,” Saini said.
“We’re super excited about this because we have our summer library program going on right now, which is great,” said Itzel Valla, the librarian in George. “The kids were super excited when I told them about this.”
And those kids who were there last week were excited as they picked out their backpacks.
“I absolutely love it a lot!” said 11-year-old Yadira Lara, who took a dark blue backpack covered with yellow and pink flowers.
Valla said the tiny, storefront library in George is important to the community as a meeting and gathering place.
“It’s the one place everyone comes to,” she said. “We have a lot of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs, we partner with the school district and we have after-school programs.”
“We have kids here every single day,” Valla added.
And they still have backpacks to give away, at least for the time being.
Saini herself continues to travel as part of her duties as Miss India Worldwide, representing and speaking to Indian migrant communities across the world. In fact, she said she will be in New Zealand and South Africa this summer before she relinquishes her crown in September.
After that, she’s not sure. Broadcast journalism, maybe. She knows she wants to continue doing this kind of work — helping others, advocating for causes like education and heart health.
“I will continue to do all this without the crown and the sash, just as Shree,” she said.
No matter where she goes or what she does, however, Saini said she knows exactly where she is from.
“Central Washington, George and Moses Lake will always be my home,” she said.