Left: Candice Washington fills the Quarry's Little Free Library with care packages. Right: Obari Cartman sanitizes the Little Free Library. Credit: Provided

SOUTH SHORE — Care packages with books and activities are now available at the Quarry Event Center’s Little Free Library to keep neighbors of all ages occupied during the coronavirus pandemic.

Each “Get It and Go Home” bag at the Quarry, 2423 E. 75th St., includes two or three books, art supplies, mental health resources for adults and children and non-perishable snacks. The bags have been sanitized and include Clorox wipes inside to further clean the materials.

Fifty packs have been created as of Wednesday afternoon, with 12 available at the Quarry.

The small plastic bin is “stuffed to capacity” with the 12 packs and can be refilled, said Candice Washington, whose nonprofit Brown Books and Paint Brushes helped bring two new little libraries to Jackson Park last fall.

The Jackson Park libraries are inaccessible, as lakefront parks and all playgrounds in the city have been closed due to coronavirus precautions.

One of the Little Free Libraries in Jackson Park that is inaccessible due to the closure of Jackson Park and all playgrounds in the city. Credit: Candice Washington

Quarry co-owner Yvette Moyo came up with the idea for the care packages, according to Washington. Organizers wanted to focus on ways to keep neighborhood residents engaged that didn’t require internet access.

“You have to think about the equity issues in our communities,” Washington said. “Do [children] even have the digital devices to complete e-learning, homeschool projects every day?”

The bags at the Quarry include crayons, paintbrushes, Hebru Brantley coloring pages and pages from Chance the Rapper coloring books.

The included mental health resources were organized by Obari Cartman, who led weekly drum circles at the Quarry before the coronavirus pandemic forced the site’s closure.

Organizers are accepting donations of any materials to continue creating the care packages, and hope to expand to other South Side Little Free Libraries that aren’t in shuttered playgrounds or parks.

Washington said Wednesday she was preparing packs for Ogden Park’s library and others in Englewood and Auburn-Gresham.

“We’re doing it until we can’t do it anymore,” she said.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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