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Shelf Talk 9: Support Local

About 400 years ago, poet John Donne was deathly ill. It was during this sickness that he penned the famous Meditation 17, “No Man is an Island.” The lines that finish this poem still ring true today: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” It took sickness and isolation for Donne to truly appreciate the strength and necessity of an interconnected community.

This is a lesson we are relearning during the crisis of COVID19. No one of us is an island; the things we do affect each other. If it takes a crisis to know who our true friends are, it sometimes also takes a crisis to be true friends.

Over the crisis of the last few months, we’ve learned that Mississippi County is full of true friends. Friends who collect and distribute food to hungry children. Friends who share hard-to-get supplies with the neighborhood. Friends who order takeout and curbside pickup to help keep small businesses afloat. Friends who check in on vulnerable neighbors with phone calls and porch deliveries. Friends who volunteer and serve even when laid off from work. Friends who stay home when they can and wear masks when they go out to help protect strangers they may encounter. Friends who understand what it takes for our community to survive whole.

We have worked hard together to weather the COVID19 crisis, but we know that the true work of recovery has only just begun. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to support our community.

One of the best ways to help our community recover is by supporting local businesses. Shopping local provides income, jobs, and tax revenue to organizations like the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS). Shop locally before you drive to Jonesboro or Memphis: you’ll be supporting the same people who sponsor the MCLS Summer Reading Program; feed hometown sports teams; support local band, choir, and drama programs; provide hot chocolate at parades; jump in to help every cause with a raffle or silent auction donation. Local businesses are the backbone of our community. Now is the time to show them our friendship.

We can also give. Donate to your church and to organizations like the Mississippi County Community Foundation (MCCF), which reinvests your dollars in local agencies and programs. Volunteer your time with a local organization who needs your skills: the MCLS would love to have more Friends to help with story time, game nights, landscaping, programs, and more!

MCLS is grateful for the friendship we have found in our community. Your generosity (especially through the MCCF Giving Tree initiative) has allowed us to revamp our services and provide a virtual Summer Reading Program this year.

When we asked for incentives to keep kids reading over the summer, businesses across the county stepped up with gift cards and coupons to offer as prizes. When we asked for help getting the word out, even more businesses offered to display our fliers and hand them out to customers. We’ve had volunteers jump in to provide preschool story times, STEM Club, Storytelling Club, Knitting Club, gaming, and more.

In a time when social distancing is necessary, we’ve seen our community come together and grow stronger as a result. If you see a MCLS flier hanging in a window, or if you use a coupon earned during Summer Reading, be sure to thank the business for supporting their library, and be sure to continue to support the business.

Summer Reading is under way, but it’s not too late to join the fun! Register your family at (or at your local library) and log your reading, complete fun missions, and write book reviews to earn points. More points mean more prizes, now through August 15th!

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