EAST LANSING – “We are only as strong as we are united, weak as we are divided.”
That quote from Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” epitomizes teacher Ashley Calhoun’s one-stop shop for free food, books, school supplies and toiletries on her Homer porch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lillian Fletcher Elementary fourth-grade teacher, a self-described “Harry Potter nerd,” has begun a local movement in which residents take what they need from her porch, and replace what they can.
“We have people here at different times of the day – whether it’s 7 a.m. to pick up some food before they go to work or 6 p.m. to grab a workbook for their kid the next day,” Calhoun said. “It’s come when you want and take what you need.”
With help from her fiancé and brother, and permission from her principal and superintendent, Calhoun re-entered her elementary school to retrieve books from a free collection displayed on a bookshelf in the school’s foyer. She and her helpers also grabbed food and other items from a supply closet and lugged all of the goods across the street to Calhoun’s porch.
Once the community discovered Calhoun’s giving spot, the donations began. As soon as goods are taken, more arrive to refill the stock, she said.
Like any good teacher, Calhoun has her rules posted: Before touching anything, visitors are asked to sanitize their hands using any of five hand sanitizer bottles stationed across the wide porch. Books are for keeping, not lending. Donors are requested to leave items in bags on the floor.
“I work in the greatest place in the world,” Calhoun said. “We have people who donate things every other day — so someone takes 15 books, and there’s 20 more that come the next day to replace them.”
Read more from MEA Editor Brenda Ortega at https://mea.org/its-magical-harry-potter-inspired-teacher-turns-porch-into-giving-space/.