NAZARETH, Pa. (WLVT) - Sam Borick walked over to Nazareth Circle Tuesday morning to check on the little library he helped install four years ago. It was part of his Eagle Scout project as a high school senior.
"The Free Little Library boxes -- they're a nonprofit, and basically, it's a free give-and-take system with books on the inside," the now-Muhlenberg College junior explained.
Plenty of books were strategically stacked inside the little library, and sitting in front of it was a large plastic container that Lori Bernardo brought with her. She got to the library before Borick and found canned food and non-perishable inside along with the books. She took the items and put them inside the container.
Bernardo, president of the Nazareth Economic Development Commission (NEDC), did the same thing at the Free Little Library outside borough chambers. NEDC and The Nazareth Times started stocking both little library locations with non-perishable food in an effort to help the community as it endures the impact of COVID-19. People are encouraged to take what they need and donate what they can.
"Right now, we need whatever pieces of hope and joy we can find," Bernardo said. "People need our help, so this is one way we can help. Right now, the Nazareth Area Food Bank is kind of shut down until April 3rd, so I know that there's all kinds of limitations."
"This is a great thing that we could do right now to help the community in a small way -- but in a big way -- for some help to feed less fortunate families here in Nazareth," added Austin James, the director of operations at The Nazareth Times.
"It really makes me happy that [the libraries] have become ingrained into the community, that now, people are using it for a second purpose -- and that means a lot," Borick said.
While the idea promotes social distancing, Bernardo said some people have shared other health concerns in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There's been some comments on social media that have been, 'Well, you know, it's not safe. People are touching them,'" she explained. "Well, just like in the grocery store, people are touching things to put them on the shelf. When you get them home, wash them off, wash your hands, wash your products."
Other local businesses have stepped up to help, too. Before Hana Sushi closed, the restaurant gave away free California rolls over the weekend.
The streets may be empty, and doors may be closed, but residents here say their hearts are open.
"Nazareth will always have that tight-knit community feel to it," James said. "I think we'll all stand by one another especially in a time like this."
"I think this is an example of the Nazareth community coming together, and I'm so happy that I was able to be a part of it," Borick said.
"Everywhere I look, somebody is coming up with a great idea to help someone else, and I think that when we all think that way, and we each carry who we can carry, then everybody gets lifted," Bernardo said.
"We're going to get through this," James said. "We are going to get through this.”