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Bridesburg resident offers books, sidewalk chalk games to pass time during COVID-19.

A good read: Stacy Schwab stands against the fence of her yard at the corner of Edgemont and Orthodox streets in Bridesburg, where residents can pick up complimentary books and candy, and play a variety of sidewalk chalk activities. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

There has been no shortage of creative ideas springing up throughout the city to cope with the stay-at-home order.

Peruse social media for a few minutes or check out a recent issue of the Star for a multitude of examples.

In the meantime, there’s another option that just popped up in Bridesburg.

Longtime Bridesburg resident and Fishtown native Stacy Schwab, 52, is putting out complimentary books and drawing sidewalk chalk games for residents to enjoy at their leisure.

Any school day that the weather is good, Schwab pins various titles for ages newborn to adult in plastic sealed bags to her fence at the corner of Edgemont and Orthodox streets. Balloons also line the fence, serving as a landmark for the location.

Schwab also draws activities on the sidewalk adjacent to her home such as hopscotch and frog jumps.

The chalk games made their debut on April 8, and the books followed on April 25.

Lucky for bookworms young and young-at-heart, Schwab decided to do some spring cleaning during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The free books started because I cleaned out a closet in a bedroom we renovated and could not bear the thought of throwing away my grown and flown children’s books,” she said. “With no thrift stores of charitable donation drop-offs open, I decided to put the books out and see what happened.”

What happened was an overwhelming positive response from the neighborhood.

To date, more than 300 books have been given a second home.

While the initial books were from Schwab’s home, she has continued to replenish the supply of free books through donations from family, friends and neighbors, with boxes and bags being donated almost daily.

Titles have ranged from Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom to Lord of the Flies.

Schwab completes the “chalk walks” when there is a forecast of no rain for several consecutive days.

Something sweet: Oliver Bravo, 2, snags a sweet treat before checking out the books put out by Stacy Schwab in Bridesburg. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

“The chalk walk is an idea I got off of Facebook,” she said. “I feel bad for parents of young children who don’t have a lot of options for entertainment now that schools, playgrounds, libraries and other entertainment venues are closed.”

Schwab plans to continue putting out the books until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“I hope the project gives families something to look forward to during these trying times. I have lollipops out for the kids when they come by, just so they’ll get excited about something for a couple minutes,” she said. “It’s a challenge to keep children engaged in meaningful ways and I hope this helps parents a little bit. Additionally, as an educator, I know the value of reading so I hope people use their time at home to entertain their minds and sharpen their brains with books.”  ••

For details on when books are out, visit the Free Books in Bridesburg Facebook page or follow @freebooksinbridesburg on Instagram.


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