The Wead Personal Care Pantry at the Wead Library, 64 Elm St., Malone. Blaine LaVoie/Malone Telegram

MALONE — The Wead Library, 64 Elm St., recently opened a “Personal Care Pantry” as part of “The Great Give Back” initiative.

According to its website, The Great Give Back is a community service initiative created by the Suffolk County Public Library Directors Association and the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, in conjunction with the Nassau Library System. The mission of The Great Give Back is providing a day of opportunities for users of New York State Public Libraries to participate in meaningful, service-oriented experiences.

Last year, 180 libraries in New York participated in the initiative. This year will be Wead Library’s first year.

The newly established Wead Library pantry operates on a “take what you need and give what you can” basis, similar to St. Dismas Village Church’s food pantry that opened in late August.

“The pantry was a former Little Library that was donated to us by Complete Streets,” Wead Librarian Chelsie Russo said. “My grandfather, Sam Russo, helped me repair and replace the shingles. I finished it up with a nice gray stain. A kind friend of the library helped us with the lettering on the glass door.”

The pantry is collecting personal care items and small household supplies such as disinfectants, first aid products, baby wipes, razors, shampoo, soap and other similar items. The library has said that the pantry will not be accepting clothing or food.

“It was really important for us to have some way to give back to the community,” Russo said. “We chose personal care items because we thought that these types of items may be more difficult for people to afford during this time.”

The pantry opened to the public on Oct. 2, with hopes of remaining available indefinitely past the initiative’s Oct. 16 end date.

“I originally wanted to start the personal care pantry at the beginning on 2020, but then when we all had to shut down in the middle of March. The project unfortunately had to be put on hold,” Russo said. “We are not keeping track of the number of people who have utilized the free pantry as we want to provide as much privacy as possible. We have had several patrons contribute to filling the pantry.”

Items can be dropped off at the pantry box located next to the library’s drop box near the parking lot. If the pantry is full, the library asks for items to be brought to the circulation desk inside.

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