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LONGMEADOW — Sipping from china teacups while nibbling light refreshments and enjoying afternoon conversation may seem like something there is not time for in today’s busy world, but the Friends of Storrs Library are inviting people to slow down and appreciate the moment on Sunday, May 19, for the first annual Tea Time fundraiser to benefit the Richard Salter Storrs Library.

Julie Mitchell of The Friends of Storrs Library explained that the idea for a quintessential high tea fundraiser was born in the summer of 2023. Mitchell said the Friends of Storrs Library plans to add Tea Time to the major yearly fundraisers it organizes every year, which include the Book Sale in September and the Cookie Sale in December.

“All of our work sustains the programming at the library,” Mitchell explained. The Friends of Storrs Library fundraiser for the needs of the library that are outside of its annual budget, such as programs, events and upgrades to the physical building, as needed.

The Tea Time event will have two seatings, one at 11 a.m. and another at 2 p.m. As of May 8, both seatings were sold out, Mitchell said. The event will feature seven varieties of tea, savory and sweet light refreshments, live music and a raffle. All proceeds from the Tea Time event will benefit the Storrs Library through the Friends of the Storrs Library.
The planning began in summer of 2023, with an original plan to host the fundraiser in October, but Mitchell said organizing the Book Sale took precedence. After looking at the calendar of town events, the Friends decided to host the Tea Time on the Sunday after Mother’s Day.
While the Friends was the organizer of the event, Mitchell gave credit to the community for turning the vision of a teatime fundraiser into a reality. The Friends put out the call for donations of china. After all, Mitchell said, “You can’t have high tea without teacups.” The community did not disappoint. People donated more than 500 teacups with saucers. A pair of sisters each donated an entire set that had been purchased decades ago when they were married and had rarely, if ever, been used. “I’m just glad they’ll get some use,” Mitchell quoted one as saying.
People also donated china plates, so with the help of Storrs Library Director Jean Maziarz’s husband, who drilled holes through the plates, volunteers constructed 100 three-tier serving towers on which to offer traditional tea party foods for each table. The mother of a library staffer created detailed, ornate menus and booklets detailing the flavors profiles of each tea. A sewing group at the library made cloth napkins for placesettings. The Longmeadow Historical Society, gave each of the teas a name with a connection to the town’s history, including one named after Longmeadow’s first pastor, Rev. Stephen Williams, and another named “Sarah’s Gift,” a reference to the woman who founded Storrs Library.

Each of the pastries and tea foods for the day are being made by members of the Friends and library staffers. Longmeadow Newcomers Club, a social club for women who have recently moved to town, will be serving the tea. Members of a local Scouting America troop and the high school Key Club will also be volunteering their time at the fundraiser.

Businesses and people who were unable to attend the event offered donations instead. Local florists are donating the flowers. The raffle prizes include prizes gift baskets, spa experiences and local attraction tickets from several local businesses, such as Michael Szwed Jewelers and J. Jill.

Maziarz said of the event, “It’s an amazing endeavor. The work [the Friends] put into it and the details they thought of is just such a precious gift.”

To organize one special detail, Mitchell reached out to a contact at Tea Time Magazine, which put her in touch with Kentucky-based Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. The company created a custom tea for the event, appropriately named, “A Storried Blend.” The label art is a recreation of a painting of the library and its bookmobile by Longmeadow resident Wynne Dromey. The original hangs in Maziarz’s office. The tea is available for purchase at Storrs Library and will be among the varieties of tea served at the event.

“People have really stepped up to help the library,” Maziarz said. Between the Friends’ three fundraisers, the organization expects to raise enough money to fund all of the library’s requests in the year ahead.

Mitchell reflected on why so many members of the community donated their time, efforts and items to the event, “There’s such a generosity in the community. Storrs is the heartbeat of it all. I think everyone has their own Storrs love story.” She added, “There’s many horrible things that came out of COVID,” but, “People realized they like talking to people. They like conversing. People ached for this library.”

To learn more about the Tea Time fundraiser, or to purchase a raffle ticket, visit friendsofstorrslibrary.org.

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