"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags." That may have worked for Dr. Seuss and the Whos down in Whoville, but how about the real children who may be facing a holiday without presents this year?
Since 2004, the Cambridge Public Library has invited its patrons to give new copies of the books that they loved as kids to children and teens in transitional housing. The books are collected, wrapped by staff and volunteers, and then delivered in time for the holiday parties. Daryl Mark, head of Children's Services for the CPL says, “Children and teens in shelters have usually moved many times and have few items of their own that travel along with them. Thanks to the generosity of many people, children and teens in transitional lodgings receive new books at this holiday time… books that are their own to keep.”
The books are given to children who live with their families in residential shelters in Cambridge or in scattered sites in Greater Boston. The housing is provided by Transition House, YWCA and Hildebrand Self-Help Center. The staff of these agencies work closely with the library to provide the age and gender of each child they serve. The book donation project was a natural outgrowth of an existing connection between the homeless shelters and the library that began in 1989 when children’s librarians from the Central Square Branch Library began presenting early evening story hours at the YWCA and the Hildebrand family shelters.
Last year, about 500 books were donated, wrapped by volunteers from the Friends, and given to children at holiday parties. Last year, Joyce Mathon Trotman, Executive Director of the Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, Inc. wrote, “ We truly appreciate your ongoing commitment to provide books for our families each and every Christmas holiday season…. Both children and parents were excited to receive the wonderful books you provided, helping to remind them that they had not been forgotten.”
So this year, join the library staff, the Friends, and maybe even the Grinch in demonstrating that Christmas really does means a little bit more. You can help in two ways. One, donate a new book. Over the last few years, Porter Square Books has been a vital partner in this project. Customers who buy books for the project are given a 20% discount and may leave their books in a collection box at the store. Two, join us at the main library for a wrapping party. You have three opportunities: Monday, December 5, 10am-noon in the Community Room (L2); Thursday December 8, 10 am-noon or 6-8 pm in the Community Room (L2); or Friday, December 9, 10am-noon in the Beech Room (ground floor). All supplies are provided. We'll see you at the Library!
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library click here.