The West Hartford Public Library is hoping that a new project will inspire acts of kindness across town.
The library's "Kindness Project" launched on Nov. 15, when dozens of teenagers, children, and Girl Scouts filled the children's department of the library to make bags that will later be used to pack toiletries to donate to the town's food pantry.
Children's services librarian Carol Waxman said this is a great opportunity to educate West Hartford children about kindness.
"The thing they need to realize is that there are children who don't have toothpaste, who don't have shampoo," Waxman said. "They can learn how they can help. It's a concrete project. You're doing something."
From Nov. 20 through Dec. 15, the library will be collecting the kinds of items the food pantry needs. That includes toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, aspirin, and lip balm. A full list of needed items can be found on the library's website, bit.ly/TheKindnessProject.
On Dec. 16, children will return to the library to pack up the items in the colorful and creative bags they created, in order to donate them to the food pantry.
Children's librarian Bailey Berardino helped start the project with Waxman based on the book, and now movie, Wonder. The story is about a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, how he was negatively received at his school, and how he overcame that. They thought the message of the story would tie in well with their mission.
"You can start kids young realizing that there are other people in the community that need their help and that they can do things to help people," Berardino said. "It starts with them. Kids don't usually realize that a lot of the times. They don't realize the impact they have when they are kind to somebody. You can show them that at any age, they can do that. You want kind children to become kind adults."
Later in the year, they'll offer up more projects under the kindness banner. One will be handing out a kindness mission board that will ask children to think about and complete acts of kindness. They'll include simple things, like holding a door for someone or calling your grandparents.
Waxman hopes the kindness project spurs conversation between children and adults.
"If their parents or grandparents ask at some point over Thanksgiving or the holidays if they did any acts of kindness this year, they can say yes, they bagged items and gave them to the food pantry," Waxman said.
Donations of the needed items can be brought to any of the three library branches - Noah Webster, Bishops Corner, or Faxon - from now through Dec. 15.