Washington library hosting Animal Pen Pal program in response to brush fires

WASHINGTON — While brushfires rage in Australia, a local library has come up with a plan to assist the youngest members of the community extend a helping hand.

Jenisa Harris, youth services librarian at the Washington Public Library, will be hosting an Animal Pen Pal program. Youth are encouraged to come to the library on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. or Monday Jan. 27 from 3:30-5 p.m. to write a letter or color a picture for an animal in need.

Harris said the notes will then be sent to the World Wildlife Fund Australia where volunteers will receive them. She said the intent is to show the animals there are people across the world who care about them. Although this will not raise funds or help fight the fires, Harris said what it will do is show students a little kindness can go a long way. “It just encourages kids to care about something and show them from an early age how they can make a difference because they don’t have the money to (donate) but this is something they can do,” she said.

Harris said she got the idea from a fellow librarian at the Ericson Public Library in Boone. Many libraries around the state are participating in this activity and she feels that through this small gesture they all can make a big difference.

“That’s what I love about different librarians is we can borrow each others programs and really make a huge difference if we’re doing it all over the state,” she said.

As well as materials to make cards and color pictures, a slideshow and books will be available to help educate youth about what is happening in Australia. The program will have a “come when you want” feel, she said, meaning participants are welcome to come whenever they want and stay as long as they would like.

For those who cannot make it, she will be taking donations of cards and art to add to the package to be sent off to the organization. These can be dropped off at the library any time and will be sent out at the end of the month. At the end of the day, it’s all about the animals she said.

“We’re educating kids on how little things can make a big difference because you don’t have to be a millionaire to make one, and maybe they’ll ask more questions and get interested in the environment which is really important for kids to have a passion for,” she said.