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Slingerlands donates Little Free Library to local shelter

Filed in Slingerlands by on May 31, 2017

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With something that looks like a birdhouse filled with gently-used books, Slingerlands Elementary School — and a group of Cub Scouts — is sharing the joy of reading with families residing at the Marillac Family Shelter by building and stocking a Little Free Library at the Albany facility.

Just as its name implies, the Little Free Library provides books free of charge to anyone who wants to read. Little Free Libraries have been popping up worldwide as a way to increase community sharing and literacy with a simple message: “Take a book. Return a Book.”

The new Marillac Little Free Library was installed in mid-May with the help of Slingerlands fourth graders, who are also scouts from Webelos Pack 272.  They are Nathan Barkman, Nate Matuszek, Devlin McNally, Vikash Radosevich, and Isao Knox (with help from Luke Grimaldi, a fourth grader at Eagle Elementary School).

Cub Scout den leader and Slingerlands parent Peter Barkman helped spearhead the effort.  

The addition of the Slingerlands-sponsored Little Free Library at Marillac continues a kinship between the school and the shelter that has been ongoing, and began many years ago at the former Clarksville Elementary School.

“The Little Free Library is an intersection of our work with Grassroot Givers, the Albany-based group that collects and distributes books to children in need and our school’s longstanding relationship with Marillac,” said Slingerlands Principal Heidi Bonacquist. “Years ago, then-Principal Dorothy McDonald at Clarksville asked our school to join theirs on some projects sponsored by St. Catherine’s Center for Children, where the late McDonald had once worked.

“The Marillac Shelter, supported by St. Catherine’s, has been the focus of many of our service learning projects,” said Bonacquist. “We began eight years ago and we never looked back.”

Principal Bonacquist said just recently the school donated its proceeds from the school’s  annual “Wax Museum” to the Marillac Shelter. At the Wax Museum, fifth graders pose as historical figures and visitors, mostly parents and friends, drop nickels in cans set up throughout the gym to see history come to life.

“We raised $800 in nickels for Marillac in one evening,” said Bonacquist.

In recent years, the school, including students and staff, has also collaborated with Grassroot Givers, helping them collect and sort books for children. Grassroots Givers has helped groups build and install Little Free Libraries all over the Albany area and the group keeps them filled with their many book donations. 

Grassroot Givers has provided a plaque that will be attached to the new Marillac Little Free Library. The plaque reads:

“This Library, dedicated to the families of The Marillac Shelter, was a joint venture of the students and staff of Slingerlands Elementary School and the Scouts of the Webelos Den of Pack 272. It was commissioned in May 2017 to promote literacy for all.”

Principal Bonacquist said Slinglingerlands Elementary School will have an ongoing book drive to support the Marillac Little Free Library.

“We work to instill a love of reading at Slingerlands,” said Bonacquist. “It is a wonderful thing to see our students and families wanting to share something so special.”