NEW PORT RICHEY — Like many Pasco kids, Faith Plotkin is off to summer day camp this year. Yet instead of attending the New Port Richey Public Library's "Fizz, Boom, Read!" summer reading program, this multi-talented 13-year-old is helping teach and coordinate it.
Already a regular feature of the library program schedule, Faith's Crafts and Creations — a free workshop that Faith has overseen for two years — will be offered 4 p.m. each Tuesday starting next week.
"Faith has so much dedication and commitment," said Kayla Kuni, youth department assistant at the New Port Richey Library. "And when kids see another kid leading a class, then they think, 'maybe I can do it.'"
Faith discovered her love for crafting as a child, when she made greeting cards for friends and family members. Even then, she also enjoyed passing her skills along to others.
"I taught my toddler cousin how to craft," she said.
Now at each crafting session, she teaches as many as 40 students — from toddlers to teens — how to express their own creativity through usable novelties.
"I just like to make things," she said. "And I like to do something different at every session."
Participants at Faith's Crafts and Creations might find themselves making wallets and pencil holders from duct tape, bracelets from Rainbow Loom bands or leis from flower templates and straws, or whimsical animal figures from recyclable paper plates. According to Faith, they pick up valuable skills along the way.
"I show them step by step how to do each craft," she said. "They can learn how to work with paper and cut out things. And I'll answer any questions they have."
Outside of her class, Faith makes healing bead necklaces for mother Debbie Plotkin's I Tap classes at the library. She has sold her crafts at the branch to raise money for library programs and events. And she has joined older brother Liam — also a frequent library volunteer — in making crafts and costumes for youth events.
"When my family first came to the library in 2012, we asked, 'How can we help?' " said Debbie Plotkin.
Faith and Liam are both members of YOLO (Youth Offering Library Opinions), a library group for younger patrons. The teens have joined youth services librarian Jessica Meredith and other volunteers to clean up and plant a tree and shrubbery at the area around an overlook at the Pithlachascotee River. And in 2012 Faith, along with her competition partner McKenna Hayden, took first place in the library's "Chopped" cooking contest.
Outside of the library, Faith is an avid photographer who also enjoys singing (she once hosted a craft sale to raise funds to travel to Savannah, Ga., where she auditioned for America's Got Talent), reading and painting; at school she has been an active participant in the Odyssey of the Mind competition.
"My daughter always wants to try something new," said Debbie Plotkin. "She does not stop. She does everything through to its completion — then it's on to the next thing."