Stocking Little Free Libraries with Food

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In March, when many Americans found themselves being asked to stay home and they started preparing for the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery shelves emptied out. That’s when Girl Scout alum Kaitlin Connelly decided to take action in Loachapoka, a town near her home in Auburn, Alabama, where the majority of school students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

In 2013, Connelly earned her Silver Award by creating three Little Free Libraries in Loachapoka, offering community members around-the-clock access to books at no cost. The project has been so successful that, seven years later, Connelly's little libraries are part of the city’s library system.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Connelly has turned her libraries into food pantries.

“My mom and I stocked them," says Connelly, "and then we opened them up to the public to donate things. People are filling them up every day ... and they are emptying out every day." She adds that she has promoted the pantries on local Facebook pages, and that she also reached out to her Girl Scout troop mates, who are still some of her closest friends.

"In Loachapoka, 91% of students are on free or reduced lunch. So now [because of the pandemic closing schools], they are without one of their food sources, and a lot of their parents are out of work, too."

“In Loachapoka, 91% of students are on free or reduced lunch," explains Connelly. "So now they are without one of their food sources, and a lot of their parents are out of work, too. Alabama has shut down [many] non-essential businesses, so a lot of people in the service industry are out of work.”

She’s proud of the way that people have rallied around her food pantries.

“It’s so incredible,” she says. “Honestly, the community is really coming together right now. There are a number of different food drives and pantries across town and everyone is doing everything they can to help each other out. It’s good Southern hospitality."

Tags: Volunteering, Navigating the Pandemic, Overcoming Adversity

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