Library’s ‘Bags of Books Project’

  • Oct. 22, 2014 5:09 p.m.

The Red Deer Public Library is teaming up to help children from the

Central Alberta Women’s Shelter with the ‘Bags of Books Project.’

During a mother-daughter weekend seven years ago, Red Deer resident Maureen Miller and her daughter Olivia, then five years old, decided during a ‘girls’ weekend’ to reach out to the community.

They both share a love of reading and a Calgary-based project called ‘Bags of Books’, which provides gently used and new books to Calgary residents in need, caught their attention.

The idea prompted them to start the program here in Red Deer providing new books to women and children at the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES).

Since then, the program has provided books in cloth bags donated by Red Deer Public Library for children and moms who have left their homes with little or nothing of their personal belongings.

“The wonderful thing about this project is that a simple experience of reading can transport a person, young or old, to another place where they can experience security and safety. A story can provide therapy, can be a companion and be hope for change and new beginnings when seen through the eyes of another character or place in time,” says Miller.

The first year of the program began with a few moms and their daughters donating books and time to sort the books into age groups and categories, said Miller.

“Careful and thoughtful decisions were made to ensure the content (both text and graphics) were appropriate. Young girls helping with the sorting and selection of books were guided by the mothers present.”

Some of these girls have been involved every year and have also assisted with the delivery of books to the shelter, she added.

“These girls get a feeling of self-worth knowing who the bags are for and knowing how much books can help the lives of those in need,” said Red Deer Public Library Children’s Services Coordinator Laural Grimes. “It really is a win, win for everyone!”

“With the program, children not only are given some things they can call their own, but the hopes are that books will open a whole new world for them, a world where fun things happen, where imagination can allow a child to focus on things other than their troubles, and lead children to a life-time of reading and learning,” said Grimes.

The program has evolved into such a large endeavor with so many hands and hearts contributing: neighbours, friends, relatives, local school libraries, book clubs and acquaintances from a distance who have heard and want to help in some way, Miller explained.

Last year, a total of 321 bags were filled by volunteers with 1,212 books for the project.