LORAIN — In an effort to get more books to more people, the United Way of Greater Lorain County and PolyOne Corp. in Avon Lake partnered to build five new Little Free Libraries.
The little buildings are known throughout the country as the tiny “take one, leave one” homes for books. United Way’s marketing and engagement director Ryan Aroney said the libraries go in areas of the county that have less access to books, hopefully getting them to kids who don’t have them.
“A lot of the work we do at United Way is about filling those gaps,” Aroney said.
Aroney said that it’s important for children to have books in the home, saying that access to reading has a lasting effect on students, even leading to higher graduation rates. He said there is a really big disparity between ZIP codes in the county in terms of literacy, and placing the libraries in underserved areas can help lessen that disparity.
Lorain County Community College student Josh Funk helped do the prefabrication for the project, cutting wood and drilling holes to make it easier for PolyOne volunteers to assemble the small buildings. Funk said he was blown away when he learned about gaps in literacy and the effect they can have, which prompted him to help with the project.
“I’d love to know that I can try to help out,” Funk said.
Along with Funk, 19 volunteers from PolyOne spent their afternoon assembling and painting the Little Free Libraries. PolyOne Senior Healthcare Business Manager Stacy Kilgore said the company posts volunteer opportunities, and sponsors 16 hours for every employee to spend time volunteering.
“This is one great opportunity for us to get our teams to give back to the community,” Kilgore said.
Aroney said PolyOne is a frequent partner of the United Way, often donating employees’ time to United Way projects.
“I think all of Lorain County benefits from having PolyOne as a community-minded corporation here,” Aroney said.
Aroney said the building materials for the Little Free Libraries were donated as well as the books that will eventually go in them. He said once they’re installed, United Way will continue to keep them stocked. He said PolyOne volunteers allow the United Way to do these kinds of projects with little resources.
“It’s just what resources do we have, and how can we best put them to use,” Aroney said.