Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy program facilitator Laura Vaughan lies surrounded by book packages from the 2020 book drive in Fernie. (Courtesy of Chrisy Hill)

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy program facilitator Laura Vaughan lies surrounded by book packages from the 2020 book drive in Fernie. (Courtesy of Chrisy Hill)

Books for Christmas: program that brings books to food bank hampers expands

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy has expanded its program to Tobacco Plains and Elkford

An initiative that brings books to the Salvation Army’s food bank Christmas hampers has expanded to Tobacco Plains and Elkford for this year’s holiday season.

The Book Under Every Tree project is put on by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), and goes hand-in-hand with the Salvation Army’s Christmas hamper program.

Community literacy outreach coordinator for the organization in the Elk Valley, Chrisy Hill, said she is excited about the expansion of the project, which has been taking place in Fernie for four years and Sparwood for three.

“Our job is to promote and support literacy in our areas. And what better way than giving free books to families that might not necessarily have them,” she said.

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About 15 families in Tobacco Plains and around 100 in Elkford will be receiving hampers along with books this year. About 100 families in Sparwood will be receiving them as well, while 60-65 families in Fernie are on the list for book-filled hampers.

Registration is still ongoing, and hampers get picked up on Dec. 21.

“We’re talking hundreds of books,” Hill said. “It costs a lot of money to get brand new books, and we’re counting on the community to help us out with that.”

The books are bought by CBAL and donated by members of the community – there is a drop-off bin outside the CBAL Learning Place office in Fernie.

Book packages are tailored to each particular family receiving a Christmas hamper. CBAL receives information on the families such as the number of members, their ages and genders. They do not receive the names of the family members.

According to Hill, they try to make the books as suitable as possible, with each member receiving their own book.

“One of the best things you can do for children for their literacy is to have books available in the house,” Hill said.

“A lot of houses don’t have books. So if we can take that barrier away from them and get some books in their houses, then we’re really happy that they’ve got at least one or two there for them to play with and read.”

More information about Christmas hampers and a registration contact can be found at Fernie’s Salvation Army website.

READ MORE: Christmas Hampers underway for Elkford residents in need


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