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Love of Reading Inspires Scout’s Eagle Project

His Free Little Libraries ‘Built Like Tanks’

When it came time to think about what project he would tackle to earn his Eagle Scout badge, Jared Lezan’s first thought was that it be something to benefit his neighborhood library.

“Before I started having a job and more schoolwork, I was an avid reader,” said the Lowell High School senior and member of Troop No. 102, who has been a teen volunteer at the Englehardt Branch of the Kent District Library since the sixth grade.

Branch Manager Heather Wood-Gramza was more than willing to accept a gift from Jared that would help him earn scouting’s highest honor. And she had the perfect project: a Little Free Library. Three of them, in fact.

Jared Lezan with one of three Little Free Libraries he built. This one is next to a bench constructed by fellow Scouts Liam and Ben Peterson, in memory of their mother, Brenda

Little Free Libraries are free-standing, independently designed, built and operated book exchanges that encourage users to take one (or a few) and leave one (or a few). Little Free Library is an international effort that has 40,000 exchanges around the world, according to the organization.

The library branch’s Friends group provided the estimated $900 cost to construct and register the structures with the organization. The branch also pledged to provide “seed” materials and look after the libraries, located on the bike trail near Creekside Park on Gee Drive, at the Lowell Senior Center and on Riverside Drive.

There currently are five official Little Free Libraries, including Jared’s, in the 49331 zip code.

Eagle rank requirements call for Scouts to take the helm in every aspect of their project, including planning, development, construction, communication and fundraising.

Jared said there were only minor hiccups in the months-long process. And he’s confident the structures he constructed, with help from his dad and a few fellow Scouts, are “built like tanks — they’re caulked and stained and stained some more. And then sealed. They should still be around when I have kids.”


Little Free Library

KDL Englehardt Branch

Curbside Literacy, Scout Style

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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