Manhasset Girls Build Community Book Box

Grace and Ava Panopoulos and Lauren Kim built and painted Manhasset’s book box from scratch, even donating some of their own favorite books to the community library. (Photo by Jennifer Corr)

Rising Manhasset Secondary School seventh graders Lauren Kim, 11, and twins Grace and Ava Panopoulos, both 12, grew their friendships by sharing stories they read in the pages of their favorite books, ranging in topics from sports to mystery to nonfiction. And with the placement of a book box in Mary Jane Davies Park, they are hoping to share that love of reading with their community.

A project of their organization 3GALCreations, Lauren, Grace and Ava built their community book box from scratch, buying all the materials they needed with the help of their parents Jeannie Kim and Irene Panopoulos. They painted pictures, including fish from the “Finding Nemo” movie, on the book box that can help inspire imagination in young and older readers alike. Kim and Panopoulos’ friend Marina Gigante served as the art director of the project.

“They were really considerate about the paintings on here,” Kim said. “They wanted to make sure it was for both girls and boys and not too kiddie. So they painted the ocean on one side and flowers on the other side… They are super proud of it and they’re going to continue this whole literacy project into their Girl Scout Silver Award.”

Panopoulos said the idea came about after her two daughters Grace and Ava had more books than they knew what to do with.

“They mentioned that it would be a great idea to give back to the community since we did not have [a book box],” Panopoulos said.

The trio, all members of Girl Scout Troop 509, wanted to share with the community their favorite books, including “Bud, Not Buddy,” by Christopher Paul Curtis, “Focused” by Alyson Gerber and books from the “Dork Diaries” series by Rachel Renée Russell. Lauren, Grace and Ava are hoping community members will drop off some books that they have finished in the box. In return, they can take or borrow a book, which is placed into three categories by shelf: adult, teen and children.

“They have been working hard on this,” Kim said, proudly. “This is an idea that [Panopoulos] gave to them and they put it to work and then they painted it and it came to fruition.”

There are more than 100,000 “Little Free Libraries” in more than 100 countries, providing access to 42 million books annually. The book boxes started with an initiative from the non profit Little Free Library and is based out of Hudson, Wisconsin that aims to be a “catalyst for building communities, inspiring readers and expanding book access for all.”

What is 3GALCreations?
Their mission statement is to “dream, innovate and empower,” and bringing a book box to Manhasset, something the community previously did not have unlike many other communities around Long Island and beyond, is surely accomplishing that goal.
But the book box is not the trio’s first project.

“We used to sell mask chains when COVID was a big thing, and we used money we raised to donate to charity,” Lauren said. “We also sell bracelets.”

To date, Kim said, 3GALCreations has raised and donated approximately $4,000 to charities ranging from Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer to the Canopy Project, which plants trees across the globe.

“They’ve definitely touched and impacted quite a few organizations since the year that this whole company was born,” Kim said. “They did mask chains, that was a huge hit… phone chains, power cord bracelets.”

To support 3GALCreations and the causes they raise funds and awareness for, community members can simply look out for their creations.

Proceeds from their bracelets currently on sale will go to the Farrell Scholarship Fund and Kiess Scholarship Fund in honor of the three young men from Manhasset who died in a car accident in Quogue late last month. Proceeds will also be donated to Ryan Kiess’ girlfriend Brianna Maglio who is currently recovering from injuries sustained from the car accident.
To learn more and support 3GALCreations follow their Facebook and Instagram page, @3GALCreations.


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