The wooden structure in front of the Feldman home on Berkshire Avenue in Linwood looks a little like a bird house for books. But the Little Free Library is Amanda Feldman's way of giving a little something back to the community after Hurricane Sandy.
Visitors can take a book, or drop some off. She even got a grant to buy some books for the small children's library.
Feldman, 25, founded a group call Peer Partners more than a decade ago when she was still in elementary school. She recruited her siblings and friends and they looked for projects that they were interested in and came up with ways to raise money for them.
"My brother, Daniel, was into hunger, so we did bake sales for Share Our Strength," Feldman said. "It can be anything someone felt passionate about."
Daniel Feldman, who is now graduating from college, spent the summer of 2012 working in Ecuador. He brought medical supplies donated by Shore Medical Center and Lincoln Medical Supply with him on the trip.
Over the years the Peer Partners raised money for Hurricane Katrina relief, sent crayons to Ghana and helped fund a library there. Closer to home, they collected toiletries for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, started the NJ Rebel anti-smoking campaign, and volunteered at the Field of Dreams baseball field in Absecon.
Feldman grew up, went to college, and now works in London, England, for a consulting company Volans, helping companies find ways to be socially responsible. But she still remains active in her hometown projects. After Hurricane Sandy she helped get Corso's Cookies to donate cookies, which were given to students in schools affected by the storm.
She's worked with Literacy Volunteers of America, made valentines for veterans and remains active with the Field of Dreams.
Feldman also won the junior division of the New Jersey National Teenager pageant at age 12 in 2000, and went on to win the national community service award.
"Google will never let me forget that," she said, laughing.
Her family started a project to help people restore photos that were damaged in Hurricane Sandy, and her parents remain a huge inspiration.
"A lot of Peer Partners has been done out of our garage," Feldman said.
Now that she and her siblings are grown, Feldman is hoping a new generation of Peer Partners will continue its work. The group has a web site, peerpartners.org, that outlines the projects they are involved with, but Feldman said she just wants to encourage young people to find something they are passionate about, and to get involved in helping others.
"It was just so much fun to be part of all these things," she said.
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