Joshua Empey

Five-year-old Joshua “Josh” Empey, of Kuna. “He was probably one of the smartest kids,” Alaina Terry, with Kuna Library, said. “He loved to learn. Once he heard about a topic he’d want to learn everything about it. He just soaked up information.”

Five-year-old Joshua Empey loved stories of knights seeking treasure his father would tell before bedtime. After his death, Joshua’s love of stories inspired his mother to host an annual memorial event.

Joshua did not speak until he was 3 years old. To encourage his speech, Steffanie Empey enrolled Joshua in a preschool early literacy program. One activity was watching YouTube videos of “Pete the Cat,” a children’s storybook character, and his adventures. Hearing these stories, Steffanie Empey feels, is what encouraged Joshua to speak, then read, a lot.

In memory of Joshua, Steffanie Empey wanted to help other children learn and love to read. The book drive, named Tell Me A Story ~ Joshua’s Memorial Book Drive, is to ensure those children who need books have them.

On the anniversary of Joshua’s death, March 19, his mother, Steffanie Empey, and the Kuna Library are organizing a book drive so that children in the Kuna community can have books and stories like Joshua had.

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New and gently used book donations are being accepted through March 19. The library will host a special event 5-7 p.m. Last year over 900 books were donated. The hope is to reach those numbers again this year.

The Kuna Library has an “outreach” program that works with local preschool programs, such as at Ross Elementary School, to find where there is a need for new books. After the March 19 book drive, those books will be handed out, through the outreach program, to where they are needed. Some of those books may go to other children’s organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

Steffanie Empey has set up a Facebook page and event for Joshua’s memorial book drive. More information about how to donate is available on the Facebook page or by contacting the Kuna Library.

Alx Stevens is the reporter for Kuna Melba News. Contact her at 208-922-3008 or

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