The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. sparked panic buying and price gouging but many are choosing acts of kindness during the global crisis.
Neighbors are turning the Free Little Libraries across the country into free pantries for those who are struggling with financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Cathy of Port Monmouth, New Jersey, last week shared a photo of her local free library that has been filled with nonperishable food items such as oatmeal and mac and cheese. "Spread the word! Take what you need, give what you can!," she wrote on the Twitter post.
Another pantry was spotted in Chicago, said Ashley Hamer, with a sign that says, "To help our neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis, this Little Free Library is converted to a Little Free Pantry. Take what you need and if you can, please donate what you can spare!"
Little Free Library is a nonprofit that promotes reading and community engagement, and it has more than 100,000 registered book-sharing boxes in 108 countries worldwide. You can click here to see where the libraries are located.
Aside from the trademarked library, there are other local book-sharing boxes as well as other local food pantries.
In New Jersey, the volunteers at Greater Somerset County YMCA have banded together to keep their local food pantry fully stocked.
Besides food, some have left essential items such as toilet paper, which has been out of stock for many stores across the country due to people stockpiling.
In a blog post on Thursday, the executive director of Little Free Library says he fully supports what people are doing.
"If you want to add items of need to your library that you think would be helpful, that is completely up to you. We think helping one’s fellow person in this challenging time is great," said Greig Metzger.
Metzger, who is a former executive director at the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf, also suggested other ways people can help.
"Are there ways you can use your Little Free Library not only as a distribution point, but as a collection point? Food shelves everywhere are facing increased demand. You can find the food shelf nearest you by doing a Google search for “food shelf near me.” Perhaps use your Little Free Library to host a food drive to help that local food shelf," he wrote.