QUEENS — More than 2,000 Key Food customers opened their pockets to help the struggling Richmond Hill Library buy books after its budget was slashed this year, the library said.
During the month-long fundraiser, the customers donated $2,500 so that the local library, which also recently received a $2,000 grant for an indoor vegetable garden, could buy books.
The library's book budget was reduced by more than 70 percent, to $7,000 this fiscal year from $25,000 in 2013, according to branch manager Rebecca Alibatya.
The 2,080 customers donated amounts of up $5 each for new books when they checked out at the Lefferts Boulevard Key Food, near Jamaica Avenue, said the grocery store’s owner, Mark D'Urso.
The Key Food corporation donated $5,000 to the library and D’Urso himself gave $2,500 earlier this year.
The $10,000 total will be matched by the Queens Library Foundation, according to Alibatya.
Peter Wayne, of the Library Foundation, said that many branch managers and groups supporting libraries have become creative in their outreach after budget cuts in recent years.
“We are looking for partnerships like the one we have with the Key Food in Richmond Hill and Mark D’Urso and we welcome other business owners in the community to work together to bring more resources to local libraries,” Wayne said.
D'Urso, who in previous years had donated additional $4,000 to buy books for the library, said the branch is welcome to organize similar fundraisers on an annual basis.
“When we started this campaign in the store, a lot of people were very appreciative,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to give something back to the community.”
Alibatya said the library will be able to buy hundreds of new books with the money, mainly for teens and young adults.
“It feels so great,” she said. “Now, I can tell my customers that I can get the books that they want. I can perform my job without worry, because I have the money.”
The Key Food Stores Co-operative, Inc. did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The library, which in April has also been awarded $100,000 to renovate its interior through the City Council's participatory budgeting process, recently also received a $2,000 grant from Citizens Committee for New York City to grow an indoor vegetable garden.
The garden, planned for the children's room, will include a number of different herbs, greens, tomatoes, corns as well as squash plants “and almost anything that is not a root vegetable as we can't do that in a window box,” said Deborah Emin, the vice president of the Friends of Richmond Hill Library.