PHOTO: Bella Veilleux looks over a book at the new ShineOnCass Lending Library at the Alfond Youth & Community Center. (Submitted photo)
WATERVILLE — The newest community Little Free Library to pop up in central Maine is shining a light on youth literacy and putting books into the hands of more than 350 children who attend the after school care program at the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA at Alfond Youth & Community Center.
The ShineOnCass Lending Library is a creative and meaningful way to support local kids, Christine Johnson, child and youth development director for the AYCC, said.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the ShineOn Cass Foundation to bring this special lending library to the families and youth of the Alfond Youth & Community Center,” Johnson said. “Through this joint endeavor, we hope to build community, while promoting a love of reading for all ages.”
Children may select a book to borrow, read it at home or at the club, and either return it, or replace it with a book of their own. The ShineOnCass Foundation designed, created and donated the bright yellow, floating sun bookcase to hold hundreds of lending books.
The ShineOnCass Foundation was created to spread kindness and promote youth volunteerism in memory of Cassidy Charette, an Oakland teen who died in a hayride accident in 2014.
“Cassidy was an avid lifelong reader. Her love for books began before she could even read the words in them,” said Monica Charette, Cassidy’s mother and executive director of the ShineOnCass Foundation. “What better way to honor her, than to share that passion with other children.”
The lending library shelves are already filled with a variety of age-appropriate books provided by the AYCC. The ShineOnCass Foundation donated a collection of books promoting kindness, inclusion and diversity, as well as children’s books from local author Jeanine Deas that address childhood grief, and a book about isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Charette family donated some of Cassidy’s personal books to the collection.
Donations of new books throughout the year will be accepted to keep the shelves full. “Providing another resource for families to have free access to a diverse collection of books, we hope, will only enhance a child’s motivation to read,” Charette said. “We want to generate and support lifelong readers, just like Cass.”
The ShineOnCass Lending Library at the Alfond Youth & Community Center is part of Little Free Library, a national book sharing organization, and as a chartered member, can be found on the worldwide registry. For more information visit shineoncass.org.