An army of 180 volunteers from the Times Colonist and other organizations fanned out on downtown street corners and at Peninsula Co-op service stations Wednesday to collect donations in exchange for newspapers.
In the end, the 11th annual Raise-a-Reader day collected $40,050 for local literacy programs.
Times Colonist promotions director Shannon Kowalko said Raise-a-Reader funds are combined with money from the annual TC book drive and other activities to help an array of literacy programs.
“Anything that we do through the year gets pooled together, so last year, we gave out $354,000 to about 180 schools and literacy groups.”
Iain Hooey presented Kowalko with a cheque for $10,000 at the corner of Douglas and Fort streets, with a volunteer crew from CHEK-TV looking on and applauding.
Hooey’s donation is one of many that will be made from proceeds of the Golf for Kids golf tournament he helps organize every year. Giving money to support literacy was an easy choice, he said.
“The immediate effect of giving support sustains the programs. The long-term effect is immeasurable.”
One donation was especially touching for Times Colonist retail-advertising sales manager Jason Scriven, who was given $50 by a man who said he has always had difficulty with reading.
“He said he wished there were programs likes this when he was a kid.”
Saanich Police Chief Mike Chadwick, who shared the Douglas/Pandora intersection with his Victoria counterpart, Jamie Graham, called the program a great initiative. “We’re working beside our friends in Victoria PD, helping to raise literacy awareness.”
Graham said increased literacy rates mean reduced crime. “So it’s just a natural for us to be here.”
Maureen Sawa, the Greater Victoria Public Library’s chief librarian, who hawked papers at Blanshard and Yates, said Raise-a-Reader is “a fantastic thing.”
“Studies have shown that early literacy makes such a difference for future success.”
She said Raise-a-Reader funding has helped a number of library programs, notably Books for Babies.
Several sports groups gave their time to Wednesday’s effort, including Rugby Canada, the University of Victoria Vikes and the Victoria Royals, whose players put in a full volunteer shift before heading to a morning practice to prepare for Friday’s season-opener.
Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development, showed her multi-tasking abilities by holding a pile of papers in one hand while tweeting her location in the other.
Michelle Reid, who pulled over on her bicycle to give money, said literacy is a priority for her.
“I have a two-year-old little boy, and while he has a plethora of screens in front of him at all times, I thinks it’s really important to make sure that he reads in different formats.”
To donate online, go to raiseareader.com and click on the Victoria Times Colonist designation.
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