The Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach and Charity (HAVOC) recently donated $1,026. to the Utica Public Library for its backpack exchange program. The early literacy program offers themed activity backpacks for infants to children age 5. Each backpack includes books, musical CDs, activities list and educational toys. These are borrowed by parents and caregivers to expand the library experience to the home.
James Mesiti ’17, a member of HAVOC’s executive board and chair of its Charity branch, said the fundraising effort was a part of HAVOC’s education & literacy campaign this semester. “The goal of the campaign is to promote education and literacy through fundraising and philanthropy, awareness efforts and volunteering/service opportunities,” he explained.
Darby O’Brien, director of the Utica library, met with the HAVOC representatives at the library on Dec. 5 and accepted a giant “check” to illustrate the donation. “We’re so thrilled with the $1,026 donation from HAVOC,” she said. “With this funding we will be able to add new backpacks to our collection as well as update the 40 that we are currently lending to parents, grandparents and caregivers,” O’Brien remarked.
Mesiti said that when HAVOC was deliberating where its fundraising proceeds would go they felt that the Utica Public Library to be the best option. “The UPL does amazing work for children in Utica and after having met with Darby O'Brien and learning about their backpack exchange program, it was evident that donating to the Utica Public Library would be fitting if we truly wanted to promote education and literacy,” he explained.
O’Brien said the backpack topics include Animals, Numbers & Counting, Under the Sea, Colors & Shapes, Pets and Fun at the Farm. These backpacks are created by Amanda Stewart, the Library’s Early Literacy Coordinator, to provide literacy-based activities that can be enjoyed in the home or pre-school setting.
Most of the money that HAVOC raised came from the “HAVOC Pumpkin Patch” that was held during Family Weekend. Parents and students were able to carve, decorate or smash a pumpkin. This event alone raised more than $850.