Read Aloud Delaware turns Little Free Library into temporary food pantry

GEORGETOWN — Books – the pillar of Read Aloud Delaware’s mission – have given way to food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Little Free Library in front of Read Aloud Delaware’s Georgetown office at 108 N. Bedford St. is serving as a temporary food pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pantry will be stocked by Read Aloud Delaware volunteers. Residents in need are welcome to take what they need. And those who can are invited to donate what they can. (Submitted photo).

Read Aloud Delaware volunteers have repurposed the Little Free Library in front of the Georgetown office at 108 N. Bedford St. as a food pantry for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

The changeover began last week.

“I did the initial stocking March 27,” said Read Aloud Delaware public relations spokeswoman P.J. Kotowski. “I will say when I went over (March 31) it was empty, which is a good thing.”

The temporary food pantry will be stocked with nonperishable foods, including canned goods, cereal soups, peanut better and jelly. And when in supply, antiseptic wipes.

A notice to other Read Aloud Delaware volunteers went out Monday.

“So, we’re not really up to steam yet for what we are hoping for,” Ms. Kotowski. “Right now, it is basically our volunteers that are keeping it stocked, either through making actual donations of food goods or … I had one volunteer who offered me some cash towards making some purchases.”

Members of the Georgetown community are urged to take what they need and to donate what they can for others.

“We are also hoping that people within the community will see that it is there, and as they are able, maybe also contribute,” said Mr. Kotowski.

Sanitizing wipes will be provided, when available.

“As I have been able to get them, I have made sure they are there,” said Ms. Kotowski. “What we’re hoping is people will take their own precautions, throw gloves on before you reach in …”

Ms. Kotowski is a member of the Sussex County Committee, which serves in an advisory capacity for Read Aloud Delaware.

“At the moment we are not able to do our reading to all the kids, which is our primary focus. Of course, the Little Free Library was always stocked with books,” said Ms. Kotowski. “I happened to see on the news one night in some place they had taken these little free libraries and made them into food pantries. I thought that was probably a good way to do something positive right now.”

Once the pandemic subsides and the all-clear signal is given, Read Aloud Delaware will resume functioning as a statewide children’s literacy program whose mission “is to ensure that each pre-school child in the state is regularly read to one on one,” Ms. Kotowski said.

Read Aloud Delaware has approximately 230 volunteers in Sussex County.

“We are in 40 different Head Starts, day cares, pre-schools and kindergartens throughout the state,” said Ms. Kotowski.

“Our volunteers go in and basically read to the children one on one. It’s sounds so simple but there are so many studies that have shown us how vitally important sowing these seeds of literacy are with kids. Our kids are 2, 3, 4 and 5 years old. It makes a huge difference down the road. We also have parent empowerment programs, helping families understand the importance of reading in the homes.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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