Melissa Agnew would have loved to have books to call her own when she was a kid.
An avid reader, she was the child of young parents who were busy working and trying to save for necessities like food.
“I didn’t have any books growing up myself,” she says.
These days, she operates Books4Brains in Comox and wanted to give kids in the community the opportunity to have books of their own, so she started working with School District 71 on a plan. Agnew wanted to get the books to all students, to avoid any stigma by making a student feel like they were being singled out.
She developed relationships with the teacher-librarians through the school district about the idea of using the libraries themselves as the distribution points.
“Every librarian signed up,” she says.
They started with Huband Elementary on March 9 and were able to get the books out prior to spring break to schools around the district.
“This initiative truly benefits kindergarten and Grade 1 students in our district, and we are grateful for the time and effort that the team at Books4Brains have made to get three books for students to take home and keep,” said Craig Sorochan, the school district’s manager of communications. “It was heartening to see the looks on students’ faces when they found out they were receiving their books, and it’s great that families will be able to spend some time reading with their children over spring break.”
For the program, the kids got to go pick out three titles they wanted. Agnew had contacted publishers, and was able to get deals on books at cost and other gifts like stickers and bookmarks that went inside tote bags for the students.
She hopes to see the program grow, and much of this will depend on the generosity of people. The goal was to raise $7,500 to cover the costs of the books, and they were still fundraising at the time she spoke to the Record.
“Everything was paid for by donations,” she says.
The response to this program has been many happy kids who, in turn, sent the store thank-you notes, which Agnew and her staff posted on the windows. Through this effort, she hopes she has been able to make a connection with a student or two who might not otherwise have any books of their own.
“That was me as a child,” she says. “There’s kids who will appreciate it.”
If anyone wishes to help out the program, they can contact Agnew at the store at 250-792-2798 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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