WESTFIELD — The Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum honored library staff members Wednesday morning for their work and persistence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fundraising group for the Athenaeum had organized its annual luminaria fundraiser in which local businesses displayed personalized paper luminaries purchased by individuals in honor of their friends, family and front-line workers who worked during the pandemic.
Friends of the Athenaeum Secretary Joanne Picard said that the group had wanted to give a gesture to the library employees who worked through the pandemic, including through the nonprofit museum and library’s pandemic closure. In a surprise Wednesday morning, luminaria depicting the names of the Athenaeum staff were set up on some of the library’s bookshelves.
“We made the luminaria in recognition of the fact that they have been working through difficult times,” said Picard.
The Athenaeum is open to the public now, but for a large part of the pandemic the building had remained closed. Like many organizations and businesses, the Westfield Athenaeum had to change its services to adapt to social distancing and indoor gathering guidelines. Staff offered curbside book pickups and online activities in lieu of the in-person activities they normally offer to youth.
Picard said she does not yet know how much this year’s luminaria display will raise in donations. The luminaries will remain in the windows of local businesses on Elm Street and throughout Westfield’s downtown until Jan. 6.
“This is our biggest annual fundraiser,” said Picard, “We love working with downtown businesses.”
The funds raised go directly to the Westfield Athenaeum to support activities and events that the museum and library puts on throughout the year.