Last year, Kelly Jewel, a former reading specialist at Millbridge Elementary School, had an idea to build a library in Delran. Through a grant Jewel received from the Delran Education Foundation, her idea finally came to fruition during the second week of June as the Millbridge Little Free Library had its grand opening.
“I have been a lifelong resident of Delran and I taught at Millbridge for two years,” said Jewel. “While I was teaching there, I noticed that some kids lacked a few skills to be great readers and I realized that Delran doesn’t have a library. Kids would have to go to Cinnaminson. I looked at it as why not bring a little library here and spread them out throughout the district. I wanted to do this somehow, and the Delran Education Foundation provided an opportunity to.”
According to the Delran Education Foundation’s website, the organization has tasked itself with investing in the highest quality innovative programs to enhance the knowledge, skills and educational experience of Delran’s students. It strives to provide funding for programs that enhance and enrich education, support the overall mission and goals of the Delran Board of Education, develop lasting partnerships with businesses and local citizens and create volunteer opportunities for members of the community who want to support the foundation’s fundraising goals.
“Every year, they give a window for teachers to apply,” said Jewel. “They do fundraisers throughout the year, and all of the money from the Harlem Wizard event, the casino night etc., goes towards teacher projects. Jessica Bivans help me propose the grant, and we found out about it in June.”
A year later, Bivans was able to continue the project after the departure of Jewel with hopes of promoting the love of reading within the Delran community. The Millbridge Little Free Library makes books easily accessible to everyone and it’s a way to recycle new and used books by donating them to community members.
“We really want to get the word out so that kids can read all year long and stay on their grade level,” said Bivans. “There are so many beautiful children’s books. Eventually down the line, maybe we can add in adult books, but for now kids can go down to the library, which is right in front of Millbridge on Conrow, open the latch and take a book out.”
“It’s always a struggle to get kids to read, but there’s been studies that show when kids are able to choose their own book and not be assigned them, they are more willing to read,” Bivans continued. “We want to ignite the love of reading and I want to thank Kelly for starting the idea, Kathryn Schneider, who helped me get the LFL off the ground, Superintendent Dr. Brotschul, Millbridge Principal Jennifer Lowe and the Delran Education Foundation.”