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Holly Twp. Library Hosts Shelves of Love Free Pantry in Lobby

Holly Twp. Library Hosts Shelves of Love Free Pantry in Lobby

(Mel Corrigan, March 16, 2021)

Holly Township Library not only has information and resources for patrons, it’s also the home of Shelves of Love free pantry which is located in their lobby.

Situated on Saginaw Street, not quite a mile north of the historic downtown Holly, the library services the Village of Holly and Holly, Rose and Goveland Townships.

While the library was predominantly open only for curbside and lobby pick-up throughout the pandemic, it was fully staffed and operational. Director Gregory Hayes implemented standard retail COVID-safety protocols for the safety of staff and library patrons. Youth Services Manager, Debbie Hernan, and Adult & Teen Services Manager, Tina Russette, adapted quickly to provide services and programming despite the constraints. Grab & Go craft bags for youth patrons were established to compensate for cancelled story times, virtual book clubs were organized since in-person programs were cancelled, and Take & Make activities were provided for adult and teen patrons. Also, patrons can request a curated children’s book bundle.

“People who work in libraries are people who want to help,” Debbie said. She and Tina saw, via social media, what libraries in other cities and states were doing to serve patrons. They observed numerous examples of libraries setting up donation stations to provide those in need with free, easy access to essentials (like food and dry goods). They wanted to do the same for the Holly area community, and that’s how Shelves of Love was born.

Shelves of Love is all about “sharing resources and helping others,” Debbie explained. The pantry has been made possible by library patrons and others in the community who have wanted to help during this trying time. They partnered with a local organization called Holly Acts, which donated feminine hygiene products. Patrons and other community members started bringing food donations (mostly nonperishable) and baby diapers to the lobby. Tina and Debbie arranged shelving to accommodate the items.

The Shelves of Love food pantry is open to literally everyone. There are no eligibility forms or requirements. Anyone: resident, patron or otherwise, can simply walk into the lobby and fill up a bag or two. That’s it. It’s that simple. No questions asked.

“We know that some people might feel embarrassed if they need a little help,” Tina said. They didn’t want that to be a barrier to anyone getting the help they need, which is why they established Shelves of Love in the most anonymous way possible.

Shelves of Love is available during the library’s operating hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am – 5pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am – 7pm and Saturday from 10am – 2pm.

“People have been very generous,” Tina said. So much so that they have overstock stored near the back of the library. A few times per day, a staff member checks the lobby for new donations and restocks the shelves as needed.

It’s important to mention that donated items are quarantined before items are stocked on the pantry shelves. If you have questions about Shelves of Love or library programming and services, you can call the library (248-634-1754) or send a Facebook message.

The library reopened to patrons for short visits and computer usage (call ahead to schedule a 30-minute slot) in mid-February. To learn about library events, please visit the library’s event page or follow their Facebook feed. Holly Township Library sends a monthly newsletter to inform the public about upcoming events, programs, services and more. You can subscribe or view the March newsletter online.

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