Friends of the Blackstone Public Library

Denise Daignault and Julie Tetreault, members of the Friends of the Blackstone Public Library, pictured in front of the library. The group is hosting several fundraisers to try to recoup its losses from the pandemic.

BLACKSTONE – The Friends of the Blackstone Public Library are doubling down on their fundraising efforts after a year lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the club held a successful fundraiser at Goodstuff Smokehouse that raised more than $1,000 for the library’s programs. The event was among the first the group has held since the easing of pandemic restrictions.

This weekend, they’ll continue their fundraising streak with several clothing drop-off events at the home of Friends President Denise Daignault. Supporters can drop off used clothing to 37 Mendon St. on Oct. 16, 17 and 23, from 9 a.m. to noon. The group donates the clothing to Savers in Woonsocket in exchange for cash. As of last week, Daignault said the group had already collected 140 bags of clothing and hoped to raise $500.

“We supplement the library for a lot of their programs for the children, young adults and adults,” she said. “It could be a guest speaker comes in or someone comes in to do a program.”

Residents can also schedule a clothing pickup by calling 774-804-0161.

The group typically contributes between $4,000 and $5,000 annually to support programs that are not part of the library’s annual budget. These include museum passes and prizes for the summer reading program, in addition to guest speakers and events.

Prior to the pandemic, Daignault said, they held regular beer-and-dynamite events and a semiannual book sale to support their efforts. Since last spring, she estimates they missed out on $4,500 in fundraising due to restrictions on the type of events they could hold. Eventually, she said, they had to turn down requests from the library for funding.

“Our treasury was getting pretty low. I was getting pretty nervous about that,” she said.

When she joined the Friends about five years ago, Daignault said, the group consisted of a small number of regular members who were burnt out from handling all its responsibilities. By January 2020, the situation had gotten so bad the group was in danger of disbanding due to a lack of help.

After she put out a call for new members, about 15 active members came together to rejuvenate the group’s mission just in time for the pandemic to halt their activities. Since then, those members, including Julie Tetreault, have been working to find new ways to raise funds.

“We’re not the only ones in this boat. There’s a ton of nonprofits that are in the same boat we are in,” Tetreault said. “It’s been hard to do fundraisers and meet the guidelines related to COVID.”

In the spring, they held a flower bulb sale that Daignault and Tetreault said they hope to continue in future years. The two women said they look forward to bringing back in-person fundraisers. On Nov. 6, they’ll hold their first used book sale event in close to two years.

“I think we’re hoping by the end of the book sale our coffers should be pretty well situated,” Tetreault said.

The group is also selling library-themed mugs with a design that changes by the season on their website at www.friendsoftheblackstonelibrary.com .

Daignault said they’re grateful to the local business that donated raffle prizes and cash to support their recent fundraisers. By next spring, she said, they hope to be back on a regular funding schedule.

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