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Kindness Club collecting donations for those who are homeless

By Staff | Oct 3, 2019

The community has an opportunity to help those who are homeless, thanks to the children of the Kindness Club who created boxes that have been placed at every library in the Lee County Library System.

Lee County Library System Youth Services Programming Coordinator Amy Jane McWilliam said the collection box project began after Northwest Regional Library Youth Services Librarian Kelly Amodeo and South County Regional Library Youth Services Associate Librarian Kathleen Young-Wells exchanged ideas. The two librarians wanted their Kindness Clubs to work together, so something could be done system wide to spread kindness throughout Lee County.

“They had a few different ideas. One was collecting supplies for the homeless,” she said.

McWilliam said she met Matthew Wallace, homeless outreach coordinator with Lee County Human & Veteran Services, at a county event and since then have worked closely with them for the library system.

“He worked with me and gave me a list of supplies,” she said. “We came up with an idea of how we are going to get it sorted. We decided on the two month collection throughout October and November. The kids will sort it in November.”

Items needed include travel-sized bottles of body wash; hand sanitizer; liquid soap; lip balm; toothbrushes; toothpaste; cans of dry shampoo; bug spray; sun block; flashlights; washcloths; socks; deodorant; individual packs of face and body wipes; ponchos and reusable utility sporks. All items need to be new and unopened. Gently used backpacks, or drawstring bags are also needed.

The collection boxes, which the Kids of the Kindness Club decorated last month, will be located at all libraries through Nov. 30. At the end of the collection, the Kindness Club will sort the donations into drawstring bags and the Lee County Human & Veteran Services will distribute them.

“The kids in the Kindness Clubs decorated these boxes and any of our branches are accepting these donations,” McWilliams said.

Since the plan came to fruition, Wallace made an appearance during the Kindness Club’s meeting at both libraries to talk with the children.

“He came to the Kindness Club and spoke to the kids about how people become homeless and how everyone deserves kindness. He has younger kids himself. He communicated in a way that wasn’t scary and led to greater understanding of the issue. He is a super guy,” McWilliam said. “Kids get different opinions, whether from parents or from school, or the television. We see them get the facts, or more information, and they come up with their own opinion and then think about that situation on there own.”

McWilliam said before she became the Lee County Library System coordinator she ran the youth center at the Northwest Regional Library. While there, Amodeo approached McWilliam and asked if she could start a Kindness Club for children kindergarten through fifth grade.

“I said go for it, and she did,” McWilliam said. “It was slow to start, but we kept doing it and it kept going. It sort of has a good following now. She gets up to 20 kids and it’s a monthly program.”

Shortly after the Kindness Club began at Northwest, Young-Wells began the club at South County Regional Library for second to sixth grade students.

McWilliams said the Kindness Club is really amazing. The children who participate in the club tell their friends and then bring them to the monthly gathering.

The Kindness Club is a one-hour program, which provides the children with the opportunity to learn about a specific issue, or a need, and then find a way of how they can help.

The youngsters have done such projects and activities as making cards for military personnel, creating dog and cat toys for local shelters and decorating reusable bags for those who visit local food pantries.

Those who would like to find out more information about the Kindness Club can visit www.leelibrary.net.