Cassandra Campbell, a Marcus High School senior and Girl Scout ambassador with Service Unit 406, Troop 79 from the Highland Village area, is working toward earning the highest leadership award available to Girl Scouts, the Gold Leadership Award.
The Gold Award project must be done as an individual and be a minimum of 80 hours serving a need in the community outside of Girl Scouts that is sustainable with at least 20 of those hours exhibiting leadership. Campbell, who aspires to be a writer and teach English language arts, chose to focus on literacy and access to books for her Gold Award project.
Her community of Highland Village does not have a public library system, so she thought it would be beneficial to create mini libraries at several of the area’s city parks. She contacted Linda Cornelius,director of Highland Village Parks and Recreation, to pitch the idea and found that this was something the parks board was already interested in.
After presenting her idea at a parks board meeting and getting approval by the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Gold Award Council, Campbell set to work. She conducted book drives at her church and in the community collecting hundreds of books of all types for all ages that will stock each of the four book houses she will build. A portion of her cookie sales and money collected from a troop garage sale, fundraising night at Chicken Express, and a financial badge workshop hosted by her local Chase Bank will provide the funding needed to purchase building materials.
“As I head off to college next year to pursue the next chapter of my life, I wanted to leave a legacy in my community where I was taught the love of reading and the power of education,” said Campbell, who has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten. “We are only limited by our lack of imagination and I hope children of all ages will begin a strong tradition of sharing books at these little libraries so they can become a wonderful gathering place in our community.”
The first of the four book houses was built and installed on May 25 at Kids Kastle, 2200 Briarhill Blvd., with the help of the house’s stewards, the Briarhill Middle School National Junior Honor Society led by their advisor and the teacher who inspired Campbell to pursue a career in teaching and writing, Amanda McKnight. These libraries have a “Give a Book, Take a Book” policy to help keep the libraries active and inviting.
This first book house has been registered by the Briarhill Middle School NJHS as part of the growing international network of Little Free Libraries so anyone searching for a mini library in their community can go online to find a Little Free Library nearby, including the one now at Kids Kastle.
There are currently 25,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world. They are represented in all 50 states and over 70 countries. To date, 35 million books have been exchanged worldwide through Little Free Library book exchanges.
“It was a joy and honor to get to work with Cassie in this endeavor. We are excited to be a part of something in our community that will foster and encourage a love for the written word!” said Briarhill Middle School teacher Amanda McKnight.
Highland Village residents are encouraged to come visit the Kids Kastle Little Free Library. Bring a favorite book to share and pick up a new one for free and keep the love of books and reading going for generations of Highland Village residents. The Briarhill group also created a special Facebook page to share news
“I applaud Cassie Campbell’s work in creating the Little Free Libraries in Highland Village. The libraries form a community around those of us who love to read and share books with others. This is a wonderful gift Cassie has given our city,” said Charlotte Wilcox, Highland Village mayor.
Cassie’s Gold Award plans include constructing and installing three more Book Houses by the end of June for the City of Highland Village located at Turpin Park, 223 Turpin Drive; Bruce Lockhart Lions Club Park, 500 Highland Village Dr.; and Pilot Knoll Park campground, 218A Orchard Hill Rd.
Two of these little libraries will be maintained by Audrey and Dan Vacek and their sons, Parker and Charlie, who will also help construct and install the libraries they plan to steward. The last one will be installed at Pilot Knoll Park’s campground area. This little library does not yet have a steward committed to stocking and maintaining it after it is built so Campbell and her family will maintain it until one is identified.
Written by Stacey Campbell