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Caitlin Fitzmaurice, 14, digs into a tall stack of Lemony Snicket books during the Nesmith Library's second annual read-a-thon Monday afternoon. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

Words mean plenty to Windham food pantry

WINDHAM — Dozens of area teens dove into their favorite books Monday afternoon, all for a worthy cause.

Over the course of four hours, local youth were encouraged to drop by the Nesmith Library and read at their convenience, all to raise money and food for the Shepherd's Food Pantry.

What exactly they chose to read was of little importance, Youth Services Specialist Sylvie Brikiatis said.

"They can read comic books, they can read their Facebook posts," Brikiatis said with a laugh. "As long as they're reading something, we're happy."

The Windham library attempted its first charity read-a-thon last winter, though the outcome was somewhat disappointing when a blizzard blew into town that day.

Still, the event managed to draw about 10 participants and raise several hundred dollars for the local food pantry.

This year, Brikiatis said she was hoping to raise at least $450 for the cause, with local businesses ConvenientMD, Derry Medical Center and State Farm Insurance of Windham all stepping up to help sponsor the read-a-thon.

Participants also donated cash and canned goods for the pantry.

Fifteen minutes after the 3 p.m. start time, about a dozen preteens and teens were busy reading in the library, with others enjoying cookies and hot chocolate.

The high school participants earned community service credits for their time as community service is part of Windham High School's curriculum.

Fourteen-year-old Caitlin Fitzmaurice arrived prepared for the four-hour reading marathon, a hefty stack of hardcover Lemony Snicket books tucked under her arm.

Across the table, her younger sister, Melissa, was reading Bram Stocker's Dracula.

"And she's still in the sixth grade," the proud elder sister noted.

Windham High School junior Kasey Hampton, 17, said this year was her second read-a-thon.

Hampton, who was enjoying John Green's "The Fault In Our Stars" on her Kindle, said she read for "about 3½ hours" last year.

"It's sort of a collective effort," she said. "Even though it snowed last year, we did much better than I thought."

Located at the Windham Presbyterian Church at 1 Church Street in Windham, the Shepherd's Pantry is open to the public every Monday morning to needy area families.

The pantry has no paid staff and relies entirely on volunteers for stocking shelves and serving clients.

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