Elks Bring Warmth to the Library
Libraries are a resource for education, a place to build community and a refuge. Beyond providing access to a vast array of books, music, and movies, local libraries offer an inclusive public space that can be difficult to find elsewhere.

Warm Welcome to the Library is one of seven off-the-shelf projects that can be completed with a Spotlight Grant. In this project, a Lodge joins forces with its local library to host an event at which children receive a winter coat and learn about all the resources the library has to offer.

In south Texas, the Brownsville Lodge No. 2876 held Warm Welcome to the Library events at two public library branches. The Lodge made it a goal to impart life lessons and have fun while providing clothes and books to the children.

Lodge members and librarians held story time with the children, then gave them a chance to release some energy by dancing to songs performed by a local musician. Alternating between the two activities gave attendees the chance to “get the wiggles out,” according to Grants Coordinator Monica Montanaro.

“One favorite was ‘Baby Shark,’” says Montanaro. “And when the ‘Macarena’ started, all the kids and moms started dancing.”

The stories had morals of friendship and peace and emphasized the importance of sharing. Afterwards, the kids began a craft project that put these lessons into practice; with less materials than kids participating, sharing was the only way to complete the task.

“Especially at that age, it’s all ‘mine, mine, mine,’” says Montanaro. “We have to learn how to share—first we talked about it, then we incorporated it.”

Rockville, Ind., Lodge No. 2471 altered its Warm Welcome to the Library to respond to a tragedy in its community.

The Mecca Schoolhouse in Parke County, Indiana, had been converted from a school to a home for various community groups in the 1980s. It also housed a library, where the Reading Boot Camp, an organization that provides free reading lessons for kids ages 3-17, operated.

In early November, the building was raising funds for a new HVAC system. The Rockville Elks Lodge held a meeting at which members agreed to donate its Gratitude Grant to the cause.

But bad luck struck, and the building caught fire on November 10. It took 15 area fire departments to control the blaze. Valuables and artifacts have been removed for safekeeping and community groups have had to find new places out of which to operate, but hope remains that the structure can be restored.

The Reading Boot Camp established itself at the New Life Wesleyan Church, but it was lacking many resources and materials that were lost in the fire. The Rockville Elks stepped in to help the Boot Camp get back on its feet. With its Spotlight Grant, the Lodge offered to host a Warm Welcome to the Library event; when the Bootcamp began meeting at its new location, the Lodge used the funds to supply books and winter clothing for a session in January.

Most children in the program are from under-resourced families, meaning that winter coats can be challenging to afford. Compounded with the troubles brought by the fire, these students were facing a difficult time. The Rockville Lodge hoped that this project and its future work with the Boot Camp would provide the students with a dose of optimism, and of course, books and winter warmth.

“Hardship and adversity are lessons these students are currently learning,” says Grants Coordinator Bill Sauter. “With the help of this program, they will have a great opportunity to pass.”

Whether you like mysteries, nonfiction, or thrillers, the library has options for everyone. Connecting a child with a library can bolster their educational prospects and broaden their horizons. With the added benefit of providing materials to get through winter comfortably, Warm Welcome to the Library events are a great option for Lodges to invest in their community’s future.

For more information on our available grants and their guidelines, check out our Grant Toolkits. If you have any questions about grant projects, the CIP can be reached at 773/755-4730 or LodgeGrants@elks.org.