The St. Helena Pubic Library was selected out of hundreds of other libraries to receive a special $1,000 grant from the California State Library for programming supplies to pair with the Breakfast at the Library program.
Normally this program is a partnership with the St. Helena Unified School District in which breakfast is prepared by the school and brought over to the library for kids ages 1-18. Kids would be able to use library resources and enjoy a meal at the same time.
Because of a change in the grant program, the library discovered it could be a pop-up site at the high school where the school district was handing out meals to its students. Outreach Services Librarian Mariah McGuire quickly reached out to the school district to see if they could team up once again. The district loved the idea and was fully onboard.
Library staff knew its young patrons had to be struggling with all the sudden changes in their lives, lack of physical books and art supplies. Children’s Librarian Leslie Stanton and McGuire quickly devised a plan to create book and craft kit bags to be distributed at the high school alongside the school district’s grab-and-go meal kits.
McGuire and Stanton soon realized $1,000 would not be enough money to buy everything they needed; that is when the Federated Women of Upper Napa Valley stepped in. The organization oversees the RIF (Reading is Fun) program, giving out hundreds of free books to children three times a year at six Upvalley sites.
With schools and Boys and Girls Clubs closed, the Federated Women’s Club was no longer able to continue their RIF program. But they still had all their books. Stanton explained the situation to RIF chair Donna Kelly, who immediately offered to donate books to the library’s program so their books would still reach children.
With their help, the library was able to buy enough craft supplies and additional books for 180 kids. These giveaway bags featured three different age groups: preschool, primary, and elementary school. Each bag contained two books, crayons, a paintbox, a glue stick, pom poms, construction paper, and many other craft supplies based on age.
On Monday, library staff members McGuire, Stanton and Clara Ibarra set up shop outside Vintage Hall next to the meal kit distribution and handed out the giveaway bags to thrilled parents and students.
While the pop-up event was still going on, Stanton received several pictures of children already diving into their books.
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