Members of the Kutztown Area Garden Club volunteered to clean up the Kutztown Community Library’s gardens, responding to the Library Director’s call for help.

“As COVID-19 crept into our country, we faced adversities that no one anticipated. It's been months and we still can't see the end,” said Kutztown Library Director Janet Yost. “This outpouring of goodwill planted seeds of happiness in my heart. Kutztown is a phenomenal community that steps up and helps when you need it most. This time it was the library, the next it may be a business or a neighbor. Outreach is our community at its best.”

Yost explained that while the library staff was thrilled to reopen the library to patrons in June, the weeds in the garden were far from welcoming.

“During the pandemic, many people were spending time out in their gardens. Yards and gardens look spectacular. Meanwhile, the library's gardens were filled with more weeds than flowers. I don't know which was more overgrown, our gardens or everybody's hair. The solution could be that some of these industrious gardeners might want to do more,” said Yost.

On June 22, Yost called out to the Kutztown Area Garden Club to see if they could give the library's gardens some TLC. The club holds their monthly meetings in the library and they fill several planters each year to beautify the entrance.

“Darlene Moyer sent out a challenge to the club members. Three days later five volunteers showed up with clippers, spades and gloves and set to work,” said Yost.

The clean-up project included work on the library’s Donald L. Boyer Memorial Garden of perennials located by the entrance, as well as along the brick path to Constitution Boulevard where there are three feature gardens, created by Adam Hall as an Eagle Scout project in 2002.

“The volunteers clipped branches, trimmed overgrown bushes, pulled out weeds including thistles, and removed a large poison ivy plant. It took several hours of work and they accomplished more than I could imagine possible,” said Yost. “It is inspiring to see how a group could quickly ban together and accomplish so much in one afternoon. They promised to come back and keep it under control.”

Volunteers included Nancy Bauman, Jerry Haimowitz, Elaine Heller, Yong Park and Darlene Moyer. While working on the library grounds they were joined by Karen Wuchter who has helped with the gardens in the past.

“Joanne Yoder creates a seasonal flower box by the front doors that always looks inviting,” she said.

This spring the ivy on the bank was trimmed and weeded by Marina Schnell.

On July 24, the project continued. Charlotte Hoare dropped off four bags of mulch and Diamond Geiger spread it in the Memorial Garden.

“They saw the need and did the job!”

Yost said it has been a relief to be able to welcome the public back into the library with beautiful gardens. She said the staff struggled to get the library ready for opening to the public by installing plexiglass barriers, re-arranging public use computers, and removing seating so social distancing could be maintained. The Community Room is filled with tables to quarantine the books and DVDs that have been returned.

“The gardens were ignored but thanks to the goodness of these volunteers they now bring joy to all,” she said.

To thank the Garden Club volunteers, Yost made masks with a gardener’s themed fabric for each of the workers to thank them for their kindness.

Yost noted that volunteers have been a big part of the library’s success in the past.

“Before the library became busier, Karen Howard, former Library Director, would weed on Mondays when we were closed. We have a crew of volunteers that help keep the library going by shelving books, bringing in the drop box, mending books, and keeping DVDs in good shape,” said Yost. “The staff is doing that right now and it reinforces just how much volunteers do to help keep the library going. We miss them but they aren't able to come back until things are more stable with COVID.”

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