Brightly clad Raise A Reader volunteers from the Prince George Library and the Prince George Citizen, as well as other community partners and local politicians, asked people for donations Wednesday morning in exchange for a special edition of the Citizen.
This year's fundraising effort raised almost $11,000 for local literacy programs in Prince George and area.
Volunteers in orange T-shirts converged on street corners, Tim Hortons, Starbucks and McDonalds locations, to encourage people to help fund the important work in literacy.
"I'm always concerned when we have both children and adults who aren't exposed to books and don't have the opportunity to read and experience the wonder and joy of being able to read," said MLA Shirley Bond, as she gathered donations at the Tim Hortons drive thru at 15th Avenue during the foggy morning rush for caffeine. "I'm very thankful to the sponsors and to the generous donations we've received this morning from the public. It's hard to imagine a world without print and not being able to read either for information or for pleasure. It's one of my favourite things. I read a lot of briefing books. I prefer to read for pleasure but I can't imagine a world without books. We need to help those individuals who struggle with literacy. The great thing about Raise a Reader is the funds stay locally and great programs get the support they need."
Raise-a-Reader is a national organization dedicated to promoting literacy.
Last year the event raised $1.74 million through fundraising. In Prince George a total of $24,000 was raised last year.
This year, 16 newspapers across Canada, including the Citizen, took part.
"This is a wonderful program because it's direct funding to the actual people who need it," Allan Wilson, chief librarian of the Prince George Public Library. "We will have a committee that will select local groups in need and I particularly encourage Aboriginal groups and our children's advocates to come forward for funding."
The library is going to stay out of the selection process this year, said Wilson.
"The committee will make sure those in the greatest need will get the funds," he added. "I would like to encourage those in the region to apply because we know there is a lot of need in the outlying areas as well. Both the Native Friendship Centre and the library are doing more outreach this year into the regional district and we're supporting all the areas in the municipality as well. We know that if you reach children at the ages of four and five they will be lifelong readers and a child between the ages of four and seven reading consistently can raise their IQ as much as 20 points. So it really is important to get this habit early."
It's also good for parent-child bonding, said Wilson, citing the grandparents reading program at the library and the Native Friendship Centre's reading circles as prime examples.
"We're so proud to once again be involved in the Raise a Reader campaign," said Colleen Sparrow, publisher of the Prince George Citizen. "To know the funds we've raised helps those in our own region is what inspires us to partner in this project every year. Literacy, of course, is of the utmost importance to us and we're pleased to continue supporting this worthwhile cause."