Crafting for a purpose

Librarians create Creative Commons corner for charity

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Lauren Reusch

Sophomores Ben Gingrich, Nora Fredrick, Ryan Smith and Maddox Miller, sit in the library during Casey Holland’s English 2 class. The student’s decorated cards for children in the hospital with supplies from the library’s Creative Commons craft corner. “I love to see [students] work on it. I love to see their creative side [because] I don’t get to see that as much. I love to see their little hidden talents and what they create,” librarian Lauren Reusch said. “Everyone [is] just relaxing and enjoying themselves, able to sit back with their friends. I think that [relaxing is] a really important piece of the school day too.”

Vinyl, 3D pens and puzzles are a few of the crafts available within the library’s Creative Commons craft corner. While librarians Lauren Reusch and Brian Welch first began collecting materials for the space before the COVID-19 outbreak, the corner could not start until this school year. A combination of virtual schooling and safety protocols upon a return to in-person schooling last year halted the project. The Creative Commons corner was first announced last month in a Library Newsletter sent out to teachers.

The librarians were inspired to turn the space into an area that involved creating items for donations after she struggled to get students involved in the process. Reusch researched a variety of places that accept handmade donations and plans on rotating between charities each month. So while last month’s focus was creating Valentine themed bookmarks to be sent to Claymont Elementary, this month’s focus is decorating placemats for Aging Ahead.

“I can’t say enough about charitable giving. Not only does it make you feel good, [but] it [also] helps other people, and I just don’t see any downside. It’s fun, [it’s not] something that takes a lot of hard work, and it’s more accessible to students,” Reusch said.

A digital flyer advertising the Creative Commons March activity. (Lauren Reusch)

Reusch looked at various websites for inspiration on crafts that can be made. Future crafts may include the creation of fleece blankets for homeless organizations or other crafts for Meals on Wheels.

“It’s a spot for students to come in and find time to create outside of an academic endeavor, to use [their] imagination [and it provides] stress relief. There’s a lot of different concepts and ideas that went into putting it together [and] creating a community,” Welch said.

Participants in the corner have included students brought down during class time by their teachers, along with students who come into the library during their Academic Labs and Study Halls.

We’ve got so many kids who come [to the library] during study hall and don’t really have anything to do and you know, I think crafting is such a great outlet for your mind,” Reusch said. “It provides a little mental break and you just can enjoy [crafting] a little bit and hopefully feel good. I think that giving back, no matter what capacity, always really makes you feel better.”

The librarians rely on out-of-pocket expenses, library materials and items they find around their homes to keep the craft corner. They are open to hearing ideas on organizations to donate to and are willing to accept supplies to maintain the area.

A sign above the Creative Commons area. (Lauren Reusch)

“I think it’s always great to give back and not just monetarily. [Showing] that you can contribute, even if you don’t have a big income or a lot to give, [as] sometimes just the little things make a really big difference,” Reusch said.

Reusch hopes to expand the corner as a piece of professional development by introducing the corner to other schools, though the activities available remain limited due to cost prohibitions. The librarians hope that the Creative Commons area will be able to help the community through the crafts created each month.

Understanding that small acts of kindness are usually not hard to do [is important]. We’re providing a platform so that it’s a lot easier to do that. Hopefully the kids who participate understand that they’re helping someone have a good day,” Welch said.