This evening, United Way of Porter County and Valparaiso Chamber unveiled the Little Free Library Project at Valparaiso HealthLinc. The book exchange program has been a long-awaited project for the community that provides free little libraries around the Region. The libraries are open to the public and encourage the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” motto. United Way believed this would be a great opportunity to encourage reading and literacy within the community and surrounding neighborhoods.
The libraries from this installment will be located at three separate locations: at the Sturdy Road HealthLinc, the Michigan City HealthLinc Office, and at HealthLinc’s main headquarters off Calumet Avenue.
Rebecca Weber, United Way’s Volunteer Engagement Manager, was a main contributor for the Little Library Project and pushed the dream to life.
“It’s a part of our Young Leaders Initiative. They wanted to do something out in the community and we chose the Little Free Library project,” Weber said. “It took a while to get them built and lots of volunteers to bring it to completion.”
The Little Free Library boxes were designed and hand-painted by the local non-profit Art Barn and Valparaiso University students.
“It’s about getting books out to the hands that need them,” Weber said. “Books are expensive, and we know that a lot of people use HealthLinc. As people are waiting for their appointments, they can grab a book.”
Sara Timmons, an AmeriCorps member, spoke about helping to finish the project.
“The opportunity to volunteer with the Little Free Library project came up when they needed more people to help out. It’s been amazing to see the joy on a kid’s face and watch them feel excitement to read,” Timmons said.
Anicia Kosky, Community Impact Director at United Way, shared the details of the installment.
“This is a Young Leaders project. They are a professional networking group that serves the community by supporting United Way's efforts across the county,” Kosky said.
United Way partnered with HealthLinc to bring the literacy opportunity to their patients. The Little Free Libraries act as an exchange, but also offer books for free for anyone who needs them, regardless of an exchange.
“The nice thing about the book donation piece is, whatever excess books that we have, we will be donating those to the South Haven Elementary Library,” Kosky said. “They recently lost their book collection due to a mold issue.”
There are many ways to contribute to the Little Free Libraries around Northwest Indiana. If you have any books you would like to give away, visit the location map here https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/ to find a location near you to donate to. Otherwise, visit United Way with your books and they will distribute them accordingly.
Laura Lamb, Outreach and Enrollment Manager, spoke about how literacy can ultimately contribute to the health of the mind.
“In my opinion, health comes from more than just the body. It’s very much in the mind,” Lamb said. “You have to fill your mind with positivity, and dream. We like to treat the whole body.”
If you are interested in United Way of Porter County and want to be part of their efforts or learn more, visit https://www.unitedwaypc.org/.