Spotted: A Community Pantry That Offers Books, Too

Check out The Happy Liblarry!

(SPOT.ph) Community pantries are now popping up all over Metro Manila to help fill the gaps—and it looks like people are coming up with different versions, too. One has been set up for our furry friends and we have also spotted another community pantry in Quezon City that has food for the stomach and your brain cells. Check out the stall of The Happy Liblarry along Benefits Street in Project 8!

community pantry
PHOTO Used with permission from Lorna Zaragosa

Yup, aside from food, folks can also come and get books for free. They set up their community pantry and mini-library by the eatery of Mamita at Papito. We've spotted cool reads for the kids and a varied selection of paperbacks, plus some dictionaries to keep those brain cells kicking. The Happy Liblarry clarified that the books have been sanitized and that there's no need for people to return the books to their shelves.

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Why set up a book-based community pantry?

community pantry
PHOTO Used with permission from Lorna Zaragosa
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community pantry
PHOTO Used with permission from Lorna Zaragosa

"Reading can be very beneficial for one's emotional and mental health, and I aim to advocate the love of reading by giving out free books to a lot of people, especially those who are struggling during this pandemic: the ones who have lost their sources of income—their jobs and businesses—and those who have lost a loved on," stated Lorna Zaragosa, the figure behind the The Happy Liblarry, in an online exchange with SPOT.ph.

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Zaragosa started the digital "library"—where she gives away books to those in need through their Facebook page—in January after her father Lorenzo, known as "Larry", passed away. "My dad, Lorenzo, fondly called by his loved ones and friends as "Larry", was a voracious reader. So I thought of setting up a mobile library cart and name it after him as a tribute."

community pantry
PHOTO Used with permission from Lorna Zaragosa

The community library was emptied on Sunday, April 18, just a few hours after they opened! "I wasn't really expecting it to be a hit among the residents," said Zaragosa. The pantry was ignored at first until a few came over, "but with so much hesitation as they were in disbelief that they can get these things for free." She says that some were happy with just a packet of instant coffee and that you could really feel their joy and gratitude for the pantry. Folks were "excited to bring home a book or two to their kids as pasalubong" while some reached for the dictionaries to help improve their vocabulary. 

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 Zaragosa declared their first run "a success." Still, as she and her mom are immuno-compromised, they plan to set up the community pantry-slash-library on Sundays. Zaragosa's ulitimate goal for The Happy Liblarry is to set up a small mobile cart that she can bring to different places with all her books. In the meantime, this community pantry is definitely a good stepping stone. 

"I just knew in my heart that when you're doing the right thing, you also start motivating others. I hope Dad can still see this and be proud of me."

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