Nellie Sambrano wanted to make her Porterville Library-Junction Grand Opening more than just a ribbon cutting ceremony.

With her mother’s assistance, and the kindness and generosity of dozens of people, 10-year-old Nellie did just that. So from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nellie received both books and toys from people she didn't even know. Friends and family, too, came rolling up for this drive-thru book/toy drive, as well — everyone with gifts that will ultimately be distributed to kids who might not otherwise receive a gift for Christmas.

Nellie will be primarily distributing her gifts via the Family Crisis Center of Porterville. She will be coordinating with Betty Luna, the center’s “Shelter Director.”.

In total, Nellie collected 102 toys, 89 books, and seven book-sets — all new. Additionally, an anonymous benefactor heard about Nellie’s altruistic project, and provided her with a $50 gift certificate for Scholastic Books. With the assistance of Nellie’s Burton Elementary School librarian Tammie Mounce, 14 more books are on their way.

Nellie and her mother, Sarah Sambrano used Facebook to inform hundreds of people. An Amazon registry was established, and proved fruitful: one package arrived from Arizona.

For a couple of weeks now, deliveries have been arriving so frequently to the Sambrano household, Nellie and Sarah have gotten to recognize the delivery drivers and postal carriers. As a gesture of gratitude, the Sambranos have been providing them with snacks and bottled water reserved for them on the front porch.

By 9 a.m. Saturday all the books and gifts received up until then were set out on display. By 9:10 a.m., a crowd of admirers, supporters, and well-wishers were assembled for the ribbon cutting. Nellie’s principal, Brooke Torres, Burton School District Director of Education, Dr. Anthony Martin, Read for Life representative, Karen Vanni, Tim and Janet Baker, founders of the PLL Initiative, and Porterville Nazarene Pastor Barbie Courter, were present.

After a moment of silence in remembrance of Porterville Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones, Nellie was invited to cut the ribbon to officially dedicate “Nellie’s Reading Corner” and open its doors for business. It's located 2036 Cleveland, the northwest corner of the intersection of Balmoral Street and Cleveland Avenue.

Figueroa and Jones were killed in the February 18, 2020 fire that destroyed the Porterville Public Library. The brass plaque affixed to the left door of Nellie’s lending library establishes hers as a “Porterville Library-Junction.”

It's now part of 18 PLJs that are spread across Porterville, one in Springville and with the Jones family in Tulare for a total of 20. Each of these structures is part of a “decentralized memorial” in honor of and Figueroa and Jones. One hundred PLJs is the goal; eighty to go.

Asked what her favorite part of this extraordinary day was, Nellie responded, “Everything! I loved how so many people have donated and the story that family shared about their son it really made me sad, but happy because now we can help a lot of families just like this.”

The son Nellie referred to is the child of Crystal and Paul Alonzo. The Alonzos' son has a medical condition that has best been served by a center in San Francisco.

The Alonzos visited Nellie’s Book/Toy Drive in order to express how much they appreciated Nellie’s actions. Crystal Alonso said, “We absolutely adore your daughter, she’s a kid with a golden heart.

Paul Alonzo added, “Your daughter is an inspiration . . . I seriously could’ve sat there all day talking to her about how special this is, and what it’s going to mean to those that receive. . . Giving is something people take for granted nowadays.”

Asked what she learned from this experience, Nellie said, “Always be kind to people. You never know what someone is going through.”

Nellie was inspired to establish her Porterville Library-Junction when she first observed the one at 167 Carmelita. She raised the moneys required from friends and family, and then enlisted the skills of her grandfather to build her the PLJ.

She even raised enough money to purchase a sign identifying hers as “Nellie’s Reading Corner.” Additionally, she purchased a rubber-stamp to emblazon each of her books with a custom bookplate reading, “From the Library of Nellie’s Reading Corner. Read it. Love it. Return it.”

Regarding the whole event, Sarah Sambrano added, “Never did I think it would blow up this much this fast, but it definitely has been a blessing. It’s exciting to see the light this has lit in her. ”

The leaders of the PLL Initiative can't wait to see what Nellie accomplishes in her next 10 years of life. It’s because of people like her the Porterville Library-Junction Initiative continues to gain momentum. This project requires people of all ages take the initiative. Nellie has done just that.

During this Thanksgiving, Nellie, and all those contributed to her drive, have given us all something to be thankful for.

Let your neighborhood’s Porterville Library-Junction be an eternal gesture of gratitude to the families of Figueroa and Jones. It will be one of one-hundred PLJs that will constitute one of the largest decentralized memorials in California. Additionally it will be a functional memorial, as it will augment literacy for the whole community.

There are many ways to establish a neighborhood Porterville Library-Junction — in town or out in the country. Ask for a copy of the PLJ’s “Gallery of Options” for ideas.

Peruse the PLJ auction site. There you will find three PLJs that are still available in this premiere PLJ fundraiser. View these showpiece PLJs at .

Either purchase as a sole benefactor or as a group. All the proceeds will be folded back into creating more PLJs until the mission of the 100 PLJ Initiative is complete: Establishing 100 little libraries in and around Porterville by February 18, 2022.

The 100 Porterville Neighborhood Libraries Initiative is a completely non-profit, grass-roots project. It's only funded by private citizens. It respectfully functions independently of any agency.

Call the leaders of the Porterville Neighborhood Libraries Initiative with any questions: Tim Baker at (559) 779-4821, Gina Calo Ecobiza at (559) 483-1189, Cindy Kelly at (559) 361-7494, or Kristy Noble at (949) 291-7146. E-mail the PLJ at (no hyphenin case auto-hyphen puts one in).Provide an e-mail and/or mailing address

Porterville Neighborhood Little Libraries are all viewable via the Google Map link analog map is also still available upon request. Join the PLJ on Instagram at Porterville_Little_Libraries.

Formerly known as Porterville Little Libraries the initiative is now known as Porterville Library Junctions.


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