(Adapted from News story in Patch, Ossining, 11 February 2020)

An amazing local partnership came together in Ossining, thanks to the collaboration between the Ossining Basics campaign, the Ossining School District and the Ossining Rotary Club.  Through this joint spirit of community service, eight local businesses and organizations have new, fully stocked bookcases for children and families to read.

Park School pre-kindergarten teachers and Ossining Basics facilitators Dianna Langdon and Natalie Ortiz joined with the Rotary Club of Ossining to see how they could collaborate to support the community and each other's respective missions. The Ossining Basics seeks to teach parents and others, simple practices to stimulate brain growth in children from birth to 3, such as "Talk, sing and point" and "Read and discuss stories."  One of the missions of Rotary is to support basic education in communities through local involvement.

The Ossining Rotary Club donated 10 bookshelves, which children in pre-kindergarten classes at Park School helped assemble. The books were donated by various community members, (914) Cares and Molly Ness, founder of End Book Deserts.

The new bookshelves and books were delivered to laundromats, a pharmacy, a restaurant, Neighbors Link and other sites, by the organizations. Additional lending libraries are planned.

"This work happens when everyone comes together," district Community Schools Leader, Ms. Mastrogiacomo said, adding that school buildings and grounds employees also assisted. "It's really a team effort and with everybody helping out, it makes the job easier and more successful."

They originally were going to get used bookshelves and spruce them up, but the Rotary Club offered to donate new ones. The goal is to have the lending libraries throughout the community, especially in places where people are waiting for a long time, Every lending library has information sheets and bookmarks with reading tips on them.

It was not hard to convince businesses and organizations to host the lending libraries, They were excited when they received the bookshelves and books, Ms. Ortiz said. HealthSmart Pharmacy purchased child-friendly chairs, and the owner of Good Choice Kitchen planned to purchase an area rug.

"It's been a great journey that has really created some awesome results and I think that it's really going to be beneficial to the community," Ms. Ortiz said. "We look forward to adding to those libraries and expanding to other businesses as well."

Rotary Club President Marcia MacNeill-Perillo said the organization maintains a strong relationship with the school district, from high school scholarships to free dictionaries and thesauruses for younger students. "We love to assist in any possible way that we can, and that's why when Ossining Basics came to us, I thought this was a brilliant idea," she said of the bookcases.

The Ossining Basics facilitators said they are grateful to club members for their generous donation. "Without them, this really would not have been possible," they said.

Some of the district's youngest students and their teachers helped build the bookshelves. Children used Allen keys and hammers (with adult supervision) to put them together. "They were pretty easy to build and the kids had a really great time," Ms. Ortiz said.

The eight locations are:

  • Z & H Laundromat, 96 Croton Ave.
  • Deli Bagel, 238 S. Highland Ave.
  • Neighbors Link, 23-25 Spring St.
  • Open Door Family Medical Center, 165 Main St.
  • HealthSmart Pharmacy, 203 Main St.
  • Brothers Laundromat, 182 Spring St.
  • Good Choice Kitchen, 147 Main St.
  • Briar Wash n' Fold, 197 S. Highland Ave.