Free Little Library offers reading opportunities

Southern Ohio Today

Every year, organizations in Ross, Pike, Scioto, and Jackson counties strive to celebrate “Make a Difference Day” by implementing positive changes within and around their communities.

On Saturday, Pike County chose to make contributions toward expanding knowledge.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Little Free Library at the Pike County YMCA was organized by the Pike Chamber of Commerce and was one of many organizations having activities during the weeklong “Make A Difference Day” celebration.

Payton Reuter, the coordinator of the day’s events, invited local organizations, community partners, and Pike County candidates to participate.

The Pike County Chamber participated in the event with YMCA Director Kim Conley to welcome guests and promote the program.

“It was very fitting to have the grand opening event planned as a Make a Difference Day activity and scheduled at the Pike YMCA because that is what our YMCA is known for… every day, making a difference in the lives of our community,” said Pike County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shirley Bandy.

Taking a book and giving a book, Little Free Library partnered with Project BEAR, an AmeriCorps-funded program based out of Shawnee State University, as one more important service available at the YMCA to help children succeed.

Project BEAR’s Coordinator, Hayley Venturino, expressed her ambitions for making a difference worldwide.

“Project BEAR stands for Building Emerging and Achieving Readers, and the mission is to enhance early literacy for children birth to age five throughout Southeast Ohio,” said Venturino.

This year, Project BEAR partnered with Easterseals to promote the Governor’s partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine was also in Pike County at the Garnet A. Wilson Public Library to promote the program earlier this year.

“I want to thank Easterseals, Shawnee State, and Reuter for the opportunity to provide the program for the community and (recognizing) the importance of putting books in the hands of children at an early age,” said Conley.

AmeriCorps programming is administered locally by ServeOhio, the state’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism. To learn more about AmeriCorps, visit To learn more about Project BEAR, contact Hayley Venturino at Shawnee State University at (740) 351-3059.

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