Community Partner: Citrus County BlessingsChristina Reed
Picture a community where people, programs, organizations, and leaders all work together. A place where needs are met before you can even finish asking. Where building relationships and putting other’s first is a priority. Now, take a step back and realize that we live in that place.
Since the start of our summer produce program, Feed the Kids, our Citrus County Library system has been on board as a great community partner and supporter. The library system graciously opened up their parking lot for us at Lakes Regions Library in 2017 so the families we serve could pick up fresh fruits and vegetables over the summer months. Five years into the summer program and we have expanded to 7 sites throughout the county, growing from 50 participants to over 430. Each year as the program’s numbers have increased, we have asked our libraries for help. And each year we have received an enthusiastic yes. Currently, three of the seven sites are at libraries across the county. Allowing a safe, reliable, and recognizable place to receive the food these families count on each week.
In March 2020, COVID threw a wrench in our well-organized plans, causing us to think outside the box for our school year, Citrus County Blessings program. This program provides weekend and holiday meals to over 1600 food-insecure children in our community. With over 600 of those children utilizing the Virtual option for school, we needed a place participants could pick up their bags each week. Once again, our friends at the library were quick to volunteer their space, time, and staff. For the 2020/2021 school year, we used four libraries across the area to ensure the children we serve had enough to eat.
As we all get back on track as a community, we still look to our friends at the library. They are the keepers of stories, knowledge and fun. We have always used this great resource to help grow our programs, educate our community and ourselves.
The relationships we have built within the library system are relationships that nurture the very place live. From providing sites for distribution, rooms for meetings and volunteers for events, we can ALWAYS count on the incredible staff at our libraries to answer the call. When you think of community, the Citrus County Library System sums up exactly what a strong community looks like.