Fairchild-Martindale Library hosted its fourth annual Libraries Valentine’s Day Benefit Book and Bake Sale in order to raise money for Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering, a program that provides homeless men, women and children food and a warm place to sleep during winter’s coldest months.
During the 2014-15 shelter season, there were 13 shelter sights offered with 5,747 men and women utilizing them.
Mary Ellen Kitchen and Brigit Gray, both lending services assistants in Fairchild-Martindale Library, run the Valentine’s Day Benefit Book and Bake Sale. They partnered up with UNICEF, Hand by Hand and the Saudi Student Association — all student-run organizations — who are collecting travel-sized toiletries to provide to the homeless who use the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter.
Gray, the founder of the benefit, first created and carried out the book and bake sale four years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
“There was an article in The New York Times about the Queens Public Library being hit so badly with Hurricane Sandy,” Kitchen said. “So our funds that we collected our first year went to the Queens Public Library.”
During its first year, the sale raised $650 for Queens Public Library in New York. However, homelessness is a large problem around Bethlehem, so according to Kitchen, there is an absolute need to apply the money raised to a local organization. So, in February of 2014, the library lending services team came together and raised money for Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering. During their efforts last year, they raised $1000.
“This year we would love to go beyond $1000,” Kitchen said.
With the help of faculty around campus, including those at Linderman Library, and even graduate students like Galina Hanley — who brought homemade French macaroons and oatmeal cookies — snacks have been provided, while money is being raised for a cause.
“We wanted to have a charitable event that the staff put together to raise funds,” Gray said.
According to Kitchen, it is not uncommon for students to buy a cupcake for $20 so the rest of the money can go towards the cause.
To Reverend Debra K. Hess, pastor of St. Thomas United Church-Christ and Trinity United Church of Christ, it is charity events like this, that bring the community together while promoting awareness to the issue of homelessness within the community.
“Charity events, as this one, help to let others know there are homeless in Bethlehem who need help,” Hess wrote in an email. “We would not be able to do what we do without the help of church, community and many other volunteers.”