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Shilin Patel builds stronger community with Legos
Shilin Patel helps stimulate 4-year-old Jasper Reimers creativity by constructing Legos at the monthly Lego Days event at the Turlock Library.

It is trendy to reuse and repurpose materials, but local student Shilin Patel is recycling in a new way. He is donating his favorite childhood toy, Legos, and his time to host local Lego Days for children in the area.

Precipitated by his need to perform community service hours as part of a high school requirement, Patel found a creative way to not only give back to the community but revisit his favorite childhood pastime.  After being approved to host the Lego Days at the Turlock Library, a partnership was born. Patel brought his personal collection of Legos and also acquired donations from friends and family. As Lego Days enters its fifth consecutive monthly event, more than 70 children between the ages of 4 and 12 have attended each time.

“Legos are great because you can touch them and they inspire creativity so much, unlike an iPad or video games. You can really build whatever you want,” said Patel.

At the monthly gathering, Patel helps children find the pieces they want among the thousands spread across the blanketed floor and gives suggestions on things to build.

“I think the children really enjoy being able to come and have that free-for-all. It’s a lot of fun for them,” said Jane Ciccarelli, children’s library assistant.

Patel’s interest in Legos expands beyond the childhood activity as he attributes his interest in becoming an engineer to his experience playing with the plastic building blocks growing up.

“I loved Legos as a kid and I wanted to help others. Through this I realized that not everyone has Legos and I have them and I also have the time so I said ‘Why not?’” said Patel.

Patel has also brought his love for Legos to the Boys and Girls Club of Merced, where Lego building competitions are hosted and prizes are awarded.  After school programs or schools interested in starting their own Lego Days program can contact Karen Patel at The program is also available for other students interested in community service hours.