Library box turned into makeshift food pantry by 7-year-old girl

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KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – A small take-one, leave-one library in a local park has been turned into a makeshift food pantry by a 7-year-old resident.

Olivia Doherty, 7, is a resident of the Keystone Heights area with goals to help anyone in need. She raised $650 worth of pet supplies last July selling lemonade during the Kingsley Lake Boat Parade and donated all of it to the Safe Animal Shelter. Her kindness has struck the area again as she turned the Kingsley Lake Park’s free library into a food pantry.

“Well, I know people like to use the free library, so I thought, ‘Hey,’ let’s put the food in there,’” Doherty said. “It got popular and full really quick. I know that a lot of people are in need of food right now, so I said, ‘Let’s donate this food to (The Clothes Closet and Food Pantry) since they’re running low on food.’”

Doherty said she and her family heard about the different ways food pantries were stepping up in the community to feed the growing number of people in need, so spurred the idea. She said a lot of food drives set to take place have had to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – she referenced a Jacksonville Icemen hockey team food drive that was recently cancelled – and food pantries relying on that food have been put in a tough situation.

The Kingsley Lake Park food pantry is working to ease the inventory stress of The Clothes Closet and Food Pantry in Orange Park. Doherty asks that people put canned goods and boxed items into the library-turned-pantry and, if wanting to, mail financial donations to The Clothes Closet and Food Pantry’s P.O. Box at 2892 Orange Park, Florida, 32067. If you’d like to donate something in person, their address is 1010 Fromhart St., Orange Park.

The most-needed items right now are peanut butter and jelly supplies and breakfast items.

The free library at the park was a Kingsley Lake Yacht Club idea and many have used it to gift books to others for free and pick up a new book at the same time. Michael Romanelli of the Kingsley Lake Yacht Club said it’s an official part of the park and registered as the Kingsley Lake Yacht Club Free Little Library.

Doherty said the pantry will remain open for as long it’s needed.

“We’ve all been helping out,” Doherty said. “Everyone in the community has been grabbing food and we’ve been picking it up and taking it to the pantry. It’s really great.”

Doherty said the reason she does things like this and her annual lemonade fundraiser at the Kingsley Lake Boat Parade is because she feels it is important to help people however one can.

“I think it’s really important to help others if you can,” Doherty said. “Right now, there are a lot of people out there that need food during this time, and this is what I can do so that's what I’m doing.”

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