Elmdale’s BookFest benefits school and community

By Denise Deby –

Kids and adults came away from Elmdale Public School’s BookFest, held February 20-21, with armloads of used books, as well as CDs, DVDs and baked treats. The annual sale, organized by the parent-run Elmdale School Council, raised approximately $10,000 that will go towards purchasing new books, sports equipment, arts activities and other resources for the school.

Erin Kaegi, volunteer chair of BookFest, says students, their families and the community donated more than 25,000 books for the sale. To encourage contributions, the school awarded a cupcake party to each of the three classes that brought in the most books.

Barbara Lance (right), of Mayfair Avenue, invited daughter Elizabeth Lance, now of Gatineau, to BookFest. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” says Elizabeth. Barbara says: “I bought murder mysteries for summer reading, and non-fiction coffee table books to support my family history habit.” Elizabeth tracked down novels, books about dogs and business books, including Seth Godin’s <em>Purple Cow</em>, but says she’s most looking forward to rereading John Grogan’s <em>Marley and Me.</em> “I already have this in digital format, but there’s no substitute for a real book.” Photo by Denise Deby.
Barbara Lance (right), of Mayfair Avenue, invited daughter Elizabeth Lance, now of Gatineau, to BookFest. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” says Elizabeth. Barbara says: “I bought murder mysteries for summer reading, and non-fiction coffee table books to support my family history habit.” Elizabeth tracked down novels, books about dogs and business books, including Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, but says she’s most looking forward to rereading John Grogan’s Marley and Me. “I already have this in digital format, but there’s no substitute for a real book.” Photo by Denise Deby.

“The kids love it, and they really get into it,” says Kaegi. “One girl brought in 650 books all on her own.”

Liam Edwards, 7, of Westboro, picked up a book of nursery rhymes by Maurice Sendak. “I remember it from when I was a kid,” says mom and BookFest volunteer Kim Edwards.
Liam Edwards, 7, of Westboro, picked up a book of nursery rhymes by Maurice Sendak. “I remember it from when I was a kid,” says mom and BookFest volunteer Kim Edwards.

Parents are the force behind BookFest, which Kaegi believes has run for more than 30 years. She says about a hundred volunteers, including a core group of 15, spent a month collecting and sorting books, as well as setting up and running the event.

“From the donations, we sent several hundred [books] directly to our library,” says Kaegi. “As well, our teachers were invited to come down and select books for classroom use.” Students and families had a chance to shop before the event opened to the public.

BookFest gives neighbours a way to clean out their bookshelves and stock up on good-quality items at low prices. Books that don’t sell are donated to other area schools or community organizations. The volunteers say they benefit, too.

“I like to be involved in my kids’ school,” explains Kaegi, whose children Adam, David and Emma are in Grades 5, 2 and Junior Kindergarten respectively. “I feel that when I’m around the school, I know the teachers, I know the principals—you get a little bit more chance to have conversations with the people who are spending their day with your children.”

Elizabeth Good, who managed this year’s book sorting, agrees. “I know my boys have appreciated me being involved at the school,” she says.

Good has been volunteering at BookFest since her older son, now in Grade 8 at Fisher Park, went to Elmdale, where her younger son Brody is in Grade 5. She enjoys helping students who aren’t quite sure what books to buy, guiding them to what suits their interests or even her family’s favourites.

“Volunteering is key in a school, to keep it vibrant and to keep activities happening.”

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