windinthemaples: (kind)
In October 2009, two magical things happened in my life. One, I discovered the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life and I also came upon an old metal newspaper box that had been repurposed as a community book box and chained out in the elements on our Chicago neighborhood's sidewalk. It was covered in graffiti and heavily battered, held more trash than books, but it was still glorious to discover. I started making it a regular stop on Graeme's daily tricycle ride. We'd stock the back basket of his trike with books to donate and transfer all the wadded up newspapers, fast food wrappers, and empty Starbucks cups from the bookshelves to the nearby trash can. We loved being part of that project--even though we never met any of the people who were leaving or taking books. I don't know who created the box and stuck it out there on Chicago Avenue but they brought me such joy.

And so, while I've contributed to coffee shop book shelves and other little community book swaps in the past, I'd not heard of the Little Free Library movement until [livejournal.com profile] mrsbrewer started stewarding her own book box outside her home. It was wonderful--an organization that promotes and registers all these tiny independent book philanthropists, a searchable map on their website studded with little free libraries all over the world. I wanted one, so much, and so entirely lacking in carpentry skills, I started saving up money from holiday and birthday gifts to buy a ready-made box that I could plant right outside our new home in Florida once we moved.

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That pine box arrived and smelled divinely of fresh-sawed wood. I painted and stained it a buttery yellow color, to honor the spirit of our Sunshine House, and then it sat in our laundry room for seven long months because, frankly, I can no more install a library than I can build one. Finally, last week, I posted to our local town residents' page on Facebook asking for someone who had a post hole digger that I could hire for the job. To my surprise, within an hour, a team of five or six people had volunteered themselves to bring the supplies and show up for a sort of tiny barn-raising party on Sunday. Friday, another neighbor called me to talk about how best to install the box. In the end, he was so eager to help that he and his wife showed up with all the tools necessary on Saturday and found a way to tie the box into our preexisting fenceline so we didn't have to install a post at all. "You're in the library business", he said as he ran the last screw through. The Little Sunshine Book Box was born! :)

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Instead of having a post-hole digging party on Sunday, we gave out donuts to everyone who came by to donate books. In two hours we had about ten families come by and they gave a total of just under 200 books. We've got visitors to the box every day and up to 124 likes on the book box's Facebook Page. It's all pretty wonderful. :)

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So, we are now happily hosting a book box and it is JOY to drive by it in our comings and goings, to restock the shelves and to see what's been taken and what's been given.

I got the box up and running before I realized my father's last gift to me, the check he'd sent at Yuletide, had paid for most of the Little Sunshine Book Box.

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That's heartbreaking and soul-warming both. My father was ever on my side when it came to my hare-brained philanthropic projects. (Thanks, Dad. Whether I was collecting storybooks or warm pajamas or holiday gifts or canned goods, you always made me feel like it was the right thing to do and you were always the first to pitch in to help. I cannot tell you how much I'm missing that.)

The Little Sunshine Book Box was a gift from him to me. May it be a gift to the community, as well.

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windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
windinthemaples

December 2015

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