On Friday May 7, Harlingen High School South sophomore and Eagle Scout, Tristan Strubhart celebrated the realization of his project to spread literacy with the ribbon cutting of Harlingen’s Little Free Libraries.
“The Little Free Libraries mean a lot to me; it’s something I take to heart,” said Strubhart. “I know that these things are working because a few weeks ago as I drove up to Pendleton Park, I saw a kid run up and take a book out. He then called out to his brother and with a big smile on his face said, ‘hey I think I found your book.’ I think that was the moment when I truly knew that I had accomplished what I set out to do.”
The LFLs are boxes filled with books where members of the community can borrow books and share their favorite literature in return. The mission of the nationwide movement is to promote literacy and the love of reading by facilitating free book exchanges within communities.
Inspired by Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos’ “Call to Action” to promote literacy, Strubhart completed the project as part of his community service project to attain his Eagle Scout rank.
“You never know how far a call to action is going to go,” said Dr. Cavazos. “Our ‘Call to Action’ at HCISD is to promote early literacy and the importance of kids being able to read. To see our community come out in support like this and for an Eagle Scout to take our initiative to heart and try to promote it out in the community is really heart warming. If education is going to continue to be the equalizer in this great country, people need to be able to read because reading opens opportunities for people.”
Strubhart hit the ground running with the support of Dr. Laura Sheneman Coordinator of Library Services and Instructional Resources at Region One. She put him in contact with the right people to make the project a reality. He reached out to the city of Harlingen to receive permission for the installation of the LFLs and to find the best location for them at three city parks – McKelvey, Pendleton, and Rangerville.
The libraries were installed with the assistance of Strubhart’s Boy Scout Troop 1701. He also recruited two of his classmates at Harlingen South, Bobby Anderson and Molly Vela, to help paint the libraries.
“I think that artwork on the libraries will spark curiosity and people are going to be drawn to learn more about them,” said HHSS sophomore Molly Vela. “The inspiration for box at Pendleton were our veterans given its proximity to the Hometown Heroes Trail and the one at McKelvey was to be more artistic and bright so I thought the Alice in Wonderland theme would work perfectly.”
Strubhart says that he is very glad with the final product and hopes to take on more projects like this in the future.
“The LFLs are serving a great purpose in our community and that’s something I’m really proud about,” he said. “I’m also very appreciative that people like them and respect them. I hope to carry out more ideas like this in our community.”