On Tuesday afternoon, three generations of women — the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of murdered toddler Kacy Sue Lunsford — smiled through their tears while gazing upon stacks of children's books donated by community members.

On Tuesday afternoon, three generations of women — the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of murdered toddler Kacy Sue Lunsford — smiled through their tears while gazing upon stacks of children's books donated by community members.

Kacy loved to be read to, and she loved to pretend to read, they said.

"I loved it when Kacy would open up a book and make up her own words," said her mother, Michelle Lunsford.

On the one-year anniversary of Kacy Sue's death, Jackson County prosecutors presented a video in Jackson County Circuit Court in which the mother's former boyfriend, Benjamin James George, admitted to causing the series of injuries during a "wrestling match" that proved fatal to the preschooler just days short of her third birthday.

George was found guilty of murder by abuse and first-degree assault in the child's death. Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced him to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

At the trial's conclusion, Dee Anne Everson, executive director of United Way of Jackson County, asked the family whether they would approve of her idea to have the nonprofit center dedicate their "National Day of Action" to an early childhood book drive in memory of Kacy Sue.

"When something tragic happens, there's always a call to action. People want to do something, and this is something positive they can do," Everson said.

This is the fourth year United Way of Jackson County has participated in the June 21 "National Call to Action," she said.

The first year was a food drive for the hungry in our community. The second year the nonprofit asked that letters of gratitude be sent to elected officials.

"Last year we stood on the corner (in Vogel Plaza during an hourlong silent vigil to raise awareness about child abuse) because Kacy Sue had just been killed," Everson said.

The children's books were collected over the past several days at the Medford United Way office, 769 Spring St. In Josephine County, books were dropped off at the US Bank located at 400 SW 6th St., Grants Pass. The city of Ashland is continuing its drive for the rest of the week, Everson said.

"We know how important reading is in the life of a child," Everson said.

The books will be donated to organizations such as the Community Health Center, Dunn House shelter, the Family Nurturing Center and others with early childhood education programs funded by United Way, she said.

Fingering one of the books stacked on the table, Kacy's grandmother, Dena Lunsford, told Everson it was similar to one that was a special favorite of Kacy's, a book with "glittery foil butterflies," she said.

When she and Kacy would finish the book, the little girl would take it over to her grandfather and have him read it again, she said.

"He could never tell her no," Dena Lunsford said.

Many of the organizations that will receive the books do not have funds available to buy new books, she added.

"The books are a good way to contribute," she said. "It's the little things that count to children."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.