Volunteer for the Library and Make a Difference

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month! Even though our doors are closed to the public to protect your health, we still see our volunteers who are distributing grab-and-go meals every day at some of our library locations. Their cheerful and generous service shows the spirit that motivates our volunteers throughout our community.

Little Rock Central High boys volunteer at our book sale

When social distancing rules are relaxed, we will welcome the return of our volunteers to all of the many kinds of work they do at the library. Our volunteers contributed 16,803 hours in 2019, helping our staff create memorable experiences and opportunities for library users of all ages. Whether volunteers are ushering at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater or serving refreshments for Second Friday Art Night, you can always see them smiling, because volunteering at the library is just plain fun.

Volunteer Jaime Lyons described the rewards of serving at CALS. “I volunteer through the public library because the resources, staff, and programs are vital to our community, and now more than ever. And to be honest, I enjoy it.”

Our volunteers work at popular library annual events like the Six Bridges Book Festival and the used book sale. They contribute their wide-ranging talents to various library branches, where they may lead craft projects at community events or help people sign up for a library card.

Curbside meal distribution with social distancing

A very special group of community volunteers has been helping us serve a crucial community need during the pandemic. With personal protection from masks and social distancing, they have helped distribute grab & go meals at four of our library branches. Volunteers and staff have now distributed 42,000 grab-&-go meals in response to COVID 19, with three meals offered per day on weekdays and two meals on Saturdays and Sundays. 

These volunteers aren’t just distributing meals—they are helping kids and teens who rely on school lunches to get the nutrition they need for a healthy lifestyle. Many families are struggling to provide adequate nutrition for their children, and even more are affected now that COVID-19 is placing many under tough financial circumstances. CALS grab-&-go meals are helping hundreds of local families who are at very real risk of going without food for their children.

Judge Robert Brown, a CALS board member, was one volunteer who showed up to distribute meals at the CALS Williams Library.  He was touched by the experience and saw firsthand the need in the community. “The comments we got were great appreciation and a litany of how hard things are with the virus,” he said. “One recipient talked about her five children and choked up.”

Kay Kay DeRossette, who coordinates the meal service program through Be Mighty, is recruiting more volunteers both now and for the future. “When the library reopens, we will also need more volunteers to help with weekend meal service as well as to teach nutrition education to kids and teens,” DeRossette said.

Polly Deems, our CALS Volunteer Coordinator, is enthusiastic about the return of the full team of volunteers once social distancing guidelines allow it. “Volunteers are an integral part of the successful library experience for our patrons,” Deems said. “I am continually amazed at the effort and commitment our volunteers give each time they show up for their shift. And, the wonderful response we get when putting out various requests to our current volunteers and those we are reaching out to for the first time is so great.”

If you would like to join the volunteer ranks at the library, you can do so here on our website. Volunteers 12 years old and up are welcome. 

For our special meal service volunteer duty related to COVID-19, volunteers should be between the ages of 18 and 60. To sign up for meal service, contact kderossette@cals.org.