Announcing Impact Library Recipients, December 2020

By Lexie Neeley

Congratulations to this month’s Impact Library recipients, and welcome to the Little Free Library family!

Little Free Library’s Impact Library Program provides no-cost Little Free Library book exchanges to underserved communities where they can make a meaningful impact on book access and reading motivation.

Samantha D’Acunto | Woodlawn Collective | Bronx, NY 

Woodlawn Heights in the North Bronx is a community with large populations of immigrants and the elderly. Our community is a very literate one and the populations mentioned above are usually known for being wonderful customers at book sales. However, immigrants and the elderly often have limited financial resources. Public libraries often require several forms of identification to sign up for a card. Due COVID library closures have impacted the elderly community leaving them without reading materials and without social interactions. Buying books locally is not an option in the Bronx as it is the only borough without bookstores. Having a Little Free Library in Woodlawn Heights will directly benefit our community’s well being and literacy as it will provide free literature to the populations that need it most. If selected for this opportunity Woodlawn Collective (community org) is committed to maintaining the library, keeping it stocked and making it a central focus of our future community events.

Mallory DeMarco | Mastery Charter Schools – Mann Elementary | Philadelphia, PA  

The community being served is our school community that surrounds our Title 1 school, where 100% of students receive free breakfast and lunch. With school being closed since March and no return date set because of the continued rise of covid cases in the city of Philadelphia, our students have little to no access to books. The closest library is not close enough for students to walk to and remains closed. The students in our community have always loved to read and enjoy our classroom books, really the only exposure to good books. A little library in our neighborhood will not only help students continue to enjoy books now but in the future as well. My class is currently reading a book about the origin of Little Libraries. 

Shannon Fennell | McCrorey-Liston School of Technology | Blair, SC 

Fairfield County, SC is an emerging school district doing big things! Our Superintendent, Dr. J.R. Green is the 2020-2021 State Superintendent of the Year for SC. McCrorey-Liston is the tiniest and most rural of all of the schools. We serve 140 students, many of whom rely on books from the media center to read. The closest library is 20 miles away. We have families that are working diligently to overcome poverty, teen pregnancy and limited job opportunities in the area. Having access to quality books 24/7 will promote love of reading, community pride and be a lasting legacy. The school will provide the initial flow of books. We will seek donations from faculty and staff and from the community. We will encourage users of all ages to bring books and to take books to enjoy. We are excited that this will be the first Little Free Library at a school in Fairfield County as well as the first one in the county!! As a librarian I will maintain and add books as needed on a weekly basis. This program will be a huge benefit to our small community! We look forward to having a Free Little Library to spread the love of reading and provide quality books for ALL AGES!!

Jenna Hixon | Fenwick Academy | San Antonio, TX 

We are a Title I campus who serves 472 PreK to 8th grade families. We try to instill a love of learning and above all else a love of reading. The pandemic has made it more difficult than usual to help spread the joy of literacy to our community and students. They are often stuck behind a computer screen for hours a day, and lacking the access and physical comfort that books can offer. We believe books have the power to take you places, and what better time than now to escape! The library will be stocked with books for children and families to read, and magazines, for parents to take. It is our sincere hope and wish to provide more access to books now during the trying time, and to connect our community through reading. Having a little free library makes that possible. Parents can read to younger siblings when they wait to pick up students, or arrive a few minutes before the doors open in the morning. They can take a book home and share it before bed, then return it to be read another day. We do have a sanitization and book quarantine plan worked out. We will use a combination of methods: teachers can donate books from their collections, or retired/donated from families. We also have secured grant money to help fund literacy projects that can be applied to purchase books. This is a project that supports the community, and we are sure that we will have community partners who want to support us in our continued efforts to provide access to literacy to our students, families, and neighbors.

Claudia Hathcock | Day One | Pasadena, CA 

Day One is a community based non-profit that serves low income families across the San Gabriel Valley by building vibrant, healthy cities, advancing public health, empowering youth, and igniting change. Day One provides free alcohol and drug prevention education to at-risk youth, coordinates Safe Routes to School programs for youth k-12, offers free nutrition and fitness workshops, and hosts weekly youth leadership meetings. Day One’s main office is located in Pasadena and gives families from low income neighborhoods access to Pasadena’s affluent downtown by hosting free family events and activities designed to create a more connected community.

Ellen Rhoney | Ben Franklin Middle School | Buffalo, NY 

Ben Franklin Middle School (FMS) is located in the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District, outside of Buffalo, NY. FMS educates students in grades 5, 6 and 7 and shares a campus with Ben Franklin Elementary School. Our elementary school is a Title 1 school, where many of our students attend and have younger siblings. Covid-19 has widely impacted FMS families. Their finances have been stretched thin, causing less resources for non-essential items like school supplies and books. Financial difficulties are going to exist for our FMS students beyond a vaccine and a Little Free Library on our campus would help relieve some of that burden by providing free, high-quality reading materials. FMS ELL students account for about 7% of the FMS population. Speaking with the FMS ENL teachers, I learned FMS ELL students can read in their native languages (including Thai, Russian, and Arabic) but have few or no books in their native languages. Studies show students who maintain their reading skills in their native languages have much more success at learning a second language and larger brains! I would make sure we allocate a portion of any donations or book wish lists to adding foreign language books to our library’s offerings.

Laurie Schmidt | W Verne McKinney Elementary| Hillsboro, OR 

This library would be placed in the community garden area of our elementary school. It would provide access to books for the children in our community year-round and would be especially beneficial right now with schools being closed and libraries operating with limited services and hours. McKinney Elementary is a Title 1 school with approximately 87% of the student body qualifying for free and reduced lunches. 2/3 of our student body are people of color. Many families have limited means of transportation and the closest public libraries are at least two miles away. Having this little free library on the school grounds would make it much more accessible for families and provide the opportunity to get more books into the homes of our students. We would be able to provide bilingual books as well to support our students’ needs. Even when schools reopen, this would provide additional books for our community in an area that’s widely known and easily accessed and maintained.

Angela Searcy | Jackson Madison County Schools | Jackson, TN 

The library will be located at Central Office which is within a 2-3 mile radius to 4 schools in our district. We have 19 Title I schools out of 23. The people who will be able to use the library will be Jackson Madison County School System parents, families, and caregivers as well as community members. The books will be available as well as Parent Engagement tips since I am the Title I Parent Engagement Coordinator for our District. The mailbox will provide a way for me to share information with families. I plan to put inserts such as flyers and postcards inside the books. I hope to also add a bench and place the box in close proximity to a tree so that parents who want to sit down and read the book outside with their child will be able to do so. I just want to provide an additional opportunity to help with literacy in my community. Thanks so much for your consideration.

Genique Johnson | Major Elementary School | Spring, TX 

Our school currently has a Little Free Library on our campus however, it is in a really bad condition. When the library was built several years ago, it looked as though it was not built with strong material to withstand Texas weather (extreme heat & rain). The current library is not able to be used by the students or families in the community due to the mold and mildew inside of the box. It is also without a door on the front of it to keep the books secure. Many of our students live in an apartment complex directly adjacent to the school or the neighborhood the school sits in. We have another apartment complex being built across the street from the school. Having a Little Free Library that the community could have access to would be amazing. Most of our students come from low income homes that can not afford books. Having this Little Library would bring a love for reading back to our school & community. It would help spark a desire for them to read more which will ultimately help their reading levels to increase.

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