The staff of Lane Memorial Library have served the community of Hampton for over 130 years. This winter, they’re aiming to serve up some good, warm food to residents in need. “Read to Feed,” is a reading challenge that will benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Community Kitchen. The library will urge children and adults to “earn” donations by reading great books. Local Hampton businesses are sponsoring the program.
"It's a winter reading program that mirrors our summer reading program. The difference is we're giving back to our community, instead of earning prizes for ourselves," said Lane Library Assistant Director Stacy Mazur.
The all-ages reading program will run from February 1st through March 31st, 2020. The library will have bookmarks available at the end of January for readers to track their progress. Students in grades K-5 read for 20 minutes, on 4 different days, per bookmark. Older students, in grades 6-12, and adults will read 4 books per bookmark. For every bookmark, a donation of $5 to the Community Kitchen will be made in the reader’s name.
The library’s initial goal is to earn $500. If the community reaches $500, the library has a “stretch” goal, where every book or 20 minutes read (by the younger kids) will earn $5 each, to reach $800. Library patrons can also make extra monetary contributions or donate non-perishable items for the Food Pantry.
"This is a great opportunity to promote literacy and encourage generosity within the Hampton community," Mazur said.
The Community Kitchen is in downtown Hampton at the Seaside Elderly Day Out Center. They serve five meals a week from mid-October to mid-May. “Clients have a sit-down dining experience when they come,” said Lisa Parker, volunteer coordinator.
Volunteers and local community organizations prepare the meals off site. On days when volunteers are not able to meet the demand, monetary donations help to make sure a hot meal will be available for clients. Parker spoke about the continued need for volunteers to cook meals and staff the dinner service. “We operate completely on donations and through volunteers,” she stated. “There are between three to four volunteers here every time we serve.”
The funds raised by “Read to Feed” will help in part with on-going supply costs. "I’ll come in to check and see if we have plates, silverware, or paper towels, and we’re out again. Supplies are a constant need," Parker said. Donations also go towards upkeep and maintenance of the space as well as providing food supplies for volunteers who wish to prepare a cooked meal, but do not have the funds.
The Community Kitchen is an invaluable resource to the Hampton community, serving 40 to 60 people per night. “We get many donations over Thanksgiving and Christmas but find it harder to manage through the rest of winter. We still have people coming, but not as many donations or volunteers,” Parker noted.
The Community Kitchen experienced the hardship of losing their long-time space at Hampton Beach to fire. The Hampton Fire Department and Chamber of Commerce offered temporary spaces in 2018/2019. The library looks forward to helping them continue to serve the Hampton community in their new downtown location.
The library is partnering with Marston School’s Good Citizens Club on this project. Their members will make posters for the school to encourage their fellow students to take part, and they are also planning a food drive. Student representatives will be on hand to present the donations to St. Vincent de Paul at the completion of the reading campaign.
The library would like to thank local business sponsors, the Law Office of Eileen A. Nevins, Parsons Electric Co. Inc., Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory, Hampton Beach Casino, Bean Insurance Agency LLC of Hampton, NH, Pauline Maloney of Stoney Knoll Realty, Lions Club International of Hampton, NH, Tom Muldowney, Strategic-Partner of Schooley Mitchell.