Readers in the King area have a new place to find books — the Stokes Family YMCA — thanks to a recent donation by the Winston-Salem Jaycees Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) program.
Renee Parker, who helped organize the creation of a new Free Little Library at the YMCA, said it was a true collaborative effort.
“We had another member who showed me about Free Little Libraries and I contacted the girl who had been very influential in getting Free Little Libraries around Winston-Salem,” said Parker. “She sent me some information and it looked like a project we could get accomplished in a weekend.
“I was trying to find good indoor community areas that have great outreach and the YMCA seemed like a good place,” she added. “We wanted to do one outside of Winston-Salem, so we contacted the Stokes Family YMCA.”
The Free Little Library idea began in Wisconsin in 2009 and has since spread throughout the world, providing over 25,000 locations where people have free access to reading materials. The program is designed around the idea that anyone can take a book from a free little library and anyone can drop off books for others to read.
“The whole thing is to be able to take a book and leave a book,” said Stephanie Murphy who helped decorate and stock the new Free Little Library at the YMCA. “We do a spot check to make sure it is appropriate literature and is for kids (and adults) of all ages.”
Murphy said as part of the HOBY program, participants get involved in a service project of some kind.
“As part of that they decided to do these Free Little Libraries,” she said. “They decorated the boxes as youth ambassadors and brought in books to donate.”
“We did four,” said Parker. “We have one at the Fulton Family YMCA, one at the Yadkin Family YMCA, one here and we are looking for a place to put the last one.”
Stokes Family YMCA Executive Director Derek Edwards said the donation fit perfectly with the Y’s core mission.
“Anything we can do to give back to the community and collaborate with other agencies or clubs like the Jaycees, that is what the Y is all about,” he said, noting that while the new Free Little Library was located within the YMCA people did not need to have a membership to access it. “It is a community item and open to the community regardless of membership. We do try to make the membership available to everyone and never turn anyone away. It is an honor for Stokes Family YMCA to be be partnered with the Jaycees and with HOBY and to be able to offer this to the community.”
He said the Free Little Library would fit perfectly with existing after-school and summer programs at the YMCA.
“We are already doing literacy based programs,” he said. “There may be a time where we can utilize the resources in the Free Little Library to help with those programs.”
Edwards added that anyone who wanted to donate books to the Free Little Library could drop off donations at the front desk.
“If the box becomes overflowing we have put it in a place where we can add shelves if there is an overflow,” he said. “That would be a great problem to have.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.