Hawaii residents submitted the highest number of online votes to win 50,000 free books for needy children in a recent national contest, reports the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The contest was sponsored by Washington, D.C.-based First Book, a nonprofit group that has delivered more than 65 million books to children in need across the United States and Canada over two decades, according to its web site. Cindy Morita, chairwoman of First Book-Oahu, credited Hawaii citizens’ extensive use of Facebook and Twitter, where First Book publicized its third annual contest for the first time this year. The voting also went viral through eMail when friends and co-workers urged each other to vote once a day on booksforkids.firstbook.org, Morita said. Hawaii shot up from 45th place to first in the last two weeks of the contest, which began Aug. 10. The books are designated for nonprofit groups serving low-income children, schools receiving Title I federal aid, and military families. Byrde Cestare, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Library of Hawaii, said, "It’s fabulous any time people are interested in books and literacy. It’s incredible for Hawaii. … People were so excited, saying, ‘We’re No. 1! We’re in first place!’ … It’s taken on a life of its own."

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