The Ames High School Key Club Little Free Libraries Project started uniquely. In 2019, Key Club officers applied for and received a Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) grant for $500. The YOF grant is an endowed fund for Key Club International held within the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. YOF grants spur action to identify services that need to be done in the community. Key Club identified an opportunity to create a reading corner with their funds.
Enter 2020, and the reading corner project became unfeasible during a pandemic, so it was canceled. Arunadee Fernando, Key Club president for the 2020-2021 year, with a new set of officers, worked to develop a new project. Fernando and Vice President Ellie Nusbaum, Secretary Rishabh Swamy, Treasurer Sivani Manimaran, and Historian Haley Reeves, along with Key Club Advisor Cynthia Gillette and Kiwanis Advisor Randy Griffith, through help from Raising Readers, decided to lead a little free library project.
With many public places, including libraries, closed during the pandemic, Little Free Libraries provide the opportunity for children to grow and improve their literacy skills with mini outdoor libraries. The libraries aligned both with a fundamental goal of Raising Readers and a central goal with Ames High School Key Club. Using the 2019 YOF grant, they embarked on the project, constructing and painting two little free libraries. Key Club members worked under the guidance of Dan Franklin, Ames Town and Country Kiwanis member, who has built many little free libraries. Not only did Franklin provide guidance, but he provided space and tools, taking care of the installation costs along with his Kiwanis Club.
In October of 2020, President Arunadee Fernando and her fellow Key Club officers applied for a nearly $2,000 grant to expand their little free libraries project. After being fully awarded the grant in January, members got back to work constructing and painting five more little free libraries. The Key Club has created seven little free libraries, two of which have already been placed at the Miracle League Field and Inis Grove Park and Daley Park. The remaining will be installed at Northwood Preschool, Sawyer Elementary School, Edwards Elementary School, Kate Mitchell Elementary School, and the Furman Aquatic Center.