DINUBA – A Dinuba neighborhood will soon have access to a “Little Free Library” and a “Little Free Pantry” provided outside the Palm United Methodist Church.
The library and pantry boxes were built by local 16-year-old and member of the church Quincy Yada and will be stocked with books and non-perishable food beginning Sept. 10. Yada has been in the Boy Scouts of America for about five years and is currently working toward the rank of Eagle Scout. He took the initiative to do something for the church as a part of his required Eagle Scout project.
“I grew up in that church, that’s where I spent most of my Sundays as a child, and it means a lot to me that I helped them and gave back,” Yada said.
Palm United Methodist Church pastor Michelle Magee said she worked with Yada to come up with the little free library idea, and it had been something church members were talking about previously.
“We had some conversation about what that (project) would look like, and we had every once in a while thrown out ideas about what kind of dreams we have for our church,” Magee said. “The idea of a little free library … was a backburner idea that someone had thrown out, so I suggested that to (Yada), and it turned out he had also been thinking along those lines.”
Little free libraries are wood boxes usually placed in neighborhoods or parks where anyone can leave or take a book. They are meant to build a sense of community and encourage a love of reading. Yada said that he chose to build the little free library because it brings the church and the broader community together.
“I hope the community knows that we’re here and knows that we’re here to help and we’re here to serve and help each other out always,” Yada said.
Magee said that grace groups within the church will purchase the books and food for the boxes, and the goal is that they will be restocked every week, though some of those details are still being worked out.
“Part of the function of a grace group is giving beyond ourselves, so we had a little meeting and talked about how this would be a good project for all of the grace groups to work on together,” Magee said.
The entire project, from planning to completing construction, took Yada about six months. He said his favorite part of the project was painting the boxes with his fellow scouts.
Magee said she hopes community members will benefit from having these extra resources close by, even if that’s in a small way. She said she hopes the little free library can help kids and adults “to learn and grow” and contribute to efforts to improve area literacy rates.
“We’re thinking of it (the boxes) as food for the body, food for the mind and food for the soul; having a little more resources for our neighbors in those ways,” Magee said.
The little free library box will also have slips of paper in it that people can fill out with prayer requests, “so if there’s a way that our church can be praying for people, we’ll do that and thinking of that as the food for the soul part,” Magee said.
The church is conducting a dedication ceremony at 10:45 a.m. Sept. 10, after which the boxes will be stocked. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend.
“I know it’s not going to really solve hunger, but just having a little more non-perishable food items available might help some families that are struggling,” Magee said. “We’re really excited to be offering this and looking forward to the dedication day.”