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INTERVIEW: Sag Harbor's Melissa Ann Mitchell Is Making A Difference Via Her Little Free Library And Holiday Drive

T.J. Clemente

The Sag Harbor's Little Free Library. (Photo: Facebook.com)

Melissa Ann Mitchell is spearheading a holiday drive for local kids in need through Sag Harbor's Little Free Library Charter #73340. She created Sag Harbor's Little Free Library because she cares about her community and for the holiday drive, Mitchell is seeking gift cards to local food stores and Walmart, Kmart, and Target, as well as new, unwrapped toys.

Mitchell, an English teacher at Southampton High School, explained, "It is my charter library; it is literally out in front of my house. All little free libraries are registered International Small Libraries that we all take on ourselves as a non-profit, that we build (usually out of wood) outside. I was utilizing the Little Free Library as a way to try to reach out to the people who visit the library for books and try to bring the community together to generate some donations for Toys for Tots and for local kids. This is a wonderful activity for a local class or school as well. Each student can donate $1 and a book for the library and we will use the $1 donations to purchase a gift card for food for a child."

She further elaborated, "I am trying to generate some interest in people wanting to make a donation for Toys for Tots. It is one of the organizations that I am trying to collect some donations for. I am also trying to collect gift cards so that local students and kids in need have an ability to get food, if they need food for their family. We are seeing more and more kids and families struggling due to COVID-19, so I am trying to generate some interest in the local community to try to give a little bit this holiday season."

This is the first year that Mitchell has attempted to raise money via the free library and has a modest goal of $500 in food and card donations for local kids, but that's not an official goal number. "This is really about people being able to give something that they can possibly give - whether it's a toy or a food card," she relayed.

Mitchell started the Little Free Library about two years ago because, as she recalled, "I noticed there weren't any free libraries set up in the Sag Harbor or East Hampton area, or if there were, I was having trouble finding them. I have always been an avid reader and book collector and I thought why not just set up a little free library outside and start giving back? I started putting books out there for people to take. It started very small and now I am at the point where I reach out and ask for donations so people will drop off books. Actually, this year, the coolest thing is that I have seen teachers asking for books for students in their classrooms who are now remote learners. I was able to provide almost 60 books to an 5th grade class in Springs. I gave them the donation, I joined in on a 'group meet, and I was able to meet some of the children."

Mitchell concluded the interview by saying, "This is something that I love and am passionate about. I felt like this would be a good way of bringing my neighborhood and community together in ways that people really haven't been working together as much in the last couple of years."

The Sag Harbor's Little Free Library Holiday Drive will run through Wednesday, December 23.

Sag Harbor's Little Free Library is located at 16 Denison Road in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit Facebook.com or email mmitche2@gmail.com.

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