“My most rewarding volunteer experience so far has been helping to improve literacy by providing access to books through my work with Little Free Libraries for the Mississippi Delta,” says Camille Patton, a senior at Isidore Newman School.
Patton’s love of reading allowed her to spread that joy through Free Libraries in the Gulf South. She was always fortunate enough to have access to books through school, libraries and bookstores, but knows many people don’t have this easy access to books.
There are a number of Little Free Libraries in the New Orleans area, but Patton saw a need for the Little Free Libraries in Mississippi Delta Area – where her grandparents and extended family live.
“This has been a rewarding volunteer experience because I believe that literacy is a fundamental human right and that every child should have access to quality books,” says Patton. “I am a voracious reader, and I want to give others that same opportunity.”
Patton collected over 300 used books from friends and the public library, contacted over 200 children’s authors and publishers for donations and received over 300 new books for the libraries.
“I plan to build several more Little Free Libraries, and I’ll continue to contact authors and publishers requesting books. My goal is to contact at least 500 authors, and I hope to be able to provide children in the Delta with at least 1,000 new books,” says Patton.
Patton is an A.C.T.I.O.N.S. representative at Newman, which is a community engagement board. The organization creates monthly projects in a variety of areas to encourage Newman upper school students to get involved with the community.
Kimberly Causey, a community service organizer at Newman, is an activist who inspires Patton. She supports Patton’s community and the efforts on the A.C.T.I.O.N.S. board to help further Newman’s involvement in the community.
This past year, Patton was chosen to attend the National Service Learning Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she networked with students, teachers and local community organizers. Patton was able to learn more about the student voice and how students are the leaders of their community engagement.
Patton is unsure what she wants to study or go to college just yet, but she wants to be an advocate in her community for those who are underrepresented. She is also a member of Jesuit Philelectic Society, Jesuit’s theater troupe, a volunteer at her church, St. Francis of Assisi and is a peer leaders at Newman. She is also a member of the cross country and basketball teams at Newman.