Life can be overwhelming particularly as of late. Wars are breaking out, resources are running low, civil decorum seems to have been thrown to the wind — particularly when it comes to the comments section of social media.

However, if you pay close attention you’ll notice that there are acts of kindness happening all around us, where someone does something so genuinely good that it restores my hope in humanity and makes me so proud to be participating in this wild adventure we call life.

Working in a public library affords me the opportunity to see communities at their very best and at their worst. When you oversee a building that is open to the public for over 3,000 hours across 52 weeks of the year you see a wide variety of shenanigans as well as those genuinely good, golden moments.

One such golden moment came in September of 2021 when a local high school student and Eagle Scout candidate, Mary Joyce, partnered with the libraryſ Kindness Club and built and installed a Little Free Food Pantry in our book return drive-up. This act of kindness addressed the increasing need for food insecure people in our area by offering a place to easily access free food, 365 days of the year.

Two years later we are seeing our little pantry act as a lifeline for more and more of our community, and as a tether for those who give. In addition to people stocking the little pantry on their own, we’ve received some sizable donations, both monetarily and in shelf stable foods, that necessitated we create a dedicated space to hold the stock pile.

Just the other day as I was bringing out some donated muffins from an incredible delivery made by our local drivers for Bimbo, a woman pulled up the drive to give her own donation. We spoke briefly about the power of community support in acts of kindness like our little free food pantry, and the other pantries scattered around the city.

Typically, libraries are thought of as places where you can come to feed your mind, and heart even, with the moving stories and information preserved in print, on film and in music, but libraries across the country are also feeding bodies with free food pantries, fresh produce refrigerators, food programs, and partnerships with food banks.

This is an example of not only a golden moment, but a golden movement. Libraries have the benefit of serving all, at all stages of life. When our community craves information, we’re there. When itſ cold, we’re keeping folks warm. When food is scarce, we’re offering sustenance. When it feels hopeless, we’re casting out lifelines.

The amazing thing about all of this is that itſ a community led and maintained initiative. Sure, Mary came up with the idea and put in the time and effort to get things rolling, but our little free food pantry is still feeding people today because of all the people who have stepped up and shared what they had.

Public libraries are the outlet for communities to extend those feelings of goodwill towards their neighbors and fellow community members, and the Burlington Public Library is going on 139 years of shining in the glow of our golden movement.

In the entryway of the library we have a Mitten Tree, where anyone can donate or take articles of warm clothing (hats, mittens, socks, etc.). Another great example of the community taking care of those in need, and championing the good in all of us.

In a world that often feels cold-hearted and disconnected, I encourage you to be mindful this holiday season of those around you, and lean into those opportunities to usher in a golden moment. If you need some inspiration, then I invite you to spend some time in the library; we’ve got something for everyone to feed their mind, heart, and spirit this holiday season.

Happy Holidays.