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South Forsyth senior receives Gold Award
Gold award web
Ansleigh Houston earned the Girl Scout Gold Award for a project that put free library boxes throughout the county. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

One local student is making a big difference with little libraries.

Ansleigh Houston, a senior at South Forsyth High School, recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest achievement in the organization, for a project that put free library boxes throughout the county.

“I collected over 6,000 books to send to the Philippines and to Kenya,” Houston said. “I built four boxes to put in local neighborhoods … after building them I put them in the neighborhoods, which is Holly Park and Pine Ridge, and I filled them up with books.”

The libraries consist of boxes, which Houston built, where people can put in or take out free books. Houston said she got involved with distributing books and literacy, to pass on her love of reading to others.

“Ansleigh approached me about helping establish the Little Free Library project,” said Annaliza Thomas, executive director of Literacy Forsyth. “She had this really great idea of implementing local libraries, so that the citizens in the community could get free books.”

To get the project up and running, Houston said she put in some 100 hours, between research, building the boxes and shipping books.
“I had to do all the research with all the companies, because they’re in different countries, and so I had to figure out and find reliable sources, Houston said. “Shipping to the Philippines, I had to use a certain box and company. I had to plan how to build a box and get people to help me build boxes.

“I sold bracelets to raise money so I could ship the books,” she said. “So all that put together was like a hundred hours and I’m amazed about how many books I was able to raise.”

To help with such a large task, Houston got help from Literacy Forsyth to find the best locations. In addition to the two neighborhoods, she placed a box at St. Joseph’s Food Pantry at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, and one will soon go up in front of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

“She came to us basically to find the ideal locations, knowing that we work with folks, both adults and children, with little access to books,” Thomas said. “We gave her some ideas of places where she could put her libraries that a lot of people would get to see the libraries and also get to use them.”

Thomas said she was impressed by the amount of work that was put into the project, and that it was inspiring to see someone that young taking in the project.

“She was very motivated, very enthusiastic, and it’s great to see a person who is young and motivated to help other people,” Thomas said. “She’s a senior in high school, so she’s a really busy kid, but she’s taking a lot of time to do a good job and put these projects into place.”

All in all, Houston said she just wanted to make sure that everyone had something to read.

“Since I was a little kid, since I was in like second grade, I have just been in love with reading,” Houston said. “When I found out how few people in my county are able to go libraries and have as many books as I’ve had in my who life, it saddened me to think about that.”