The Times Colonist book drive, 2020 edition, was a huge success.
Hundreds of people came to the Breakwater District at Ogden Point on Saturday to drop off books, hand over some cash and cheer on our efforts on behalf of literacy on Vancouver Island.
I thanked many of the donors as they waited in line to give us their books. I wish I could have thanked every donor in person, but I couldn’t, so read on.
We’ve been doing the book drive since 1998, and some volunteers have been with us for most of those years.
They were out in force again on Saturday, unloading vehicles as before, wearing masks and gloves as never before.
Our regular volunteers were joined by volunteers from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which generously offered us the space that in a normal year would be filled with cruise ship passengers.
It gave many local residents a chance to see Victoria as arriving visitors would see it as they leave their cruise ships.
Let’s hope it gave a better sense of what goes on at the GVHA’s most prominent — and usually most busy — chunk of waterfront land.
Drivers along Dallas Road, as well as passengers heading to or from the Helijet terminal: Thanks for your understanding. Things got a wee bit tied up on Saturday morning.
It would be hard to guess how many books were handed in. Was it 50,000? Or 100,000? Who knows.
Whatever the number, the books are being sorted by staff from Russell Books, which agreed to take them all, and will pay the Times Colonist Literacy Society what they are worth.
Russell has spent more, by far, than any other buyer at our annual sales. In a year where we could not have crowds, it made sense to ask them to be involved.
Every dollar we raised gets an added boost through a contribution from the provincial government, via Decoda Literacy Solutions.
The more we raise, the more we get from Decoda, and the more we can put to work in the community.
Through the day on Saturday, we did our best to keep everyone safe. Besides the masks and the gloves, we limited contact between donors and volunteers, and asked the volunteers to remain in bubbles, which meant less interaction than they might have liked.
It’s important that our community efforts continue, as best they can, in these strange times. It’s also important that we maintain, in some form, some of the usual events that have become Victoria traditions — and the TC book drive certainly qualifies in that regard.
It’s also important, I guess, to have a chance to get rid of some of the books you’ve put aside for the book drive in recent months.
We were not sure how the drive would work out, so we made a special plea for patience. We got that, along with praise, which was much appreciated.
Several people told me how much they appreciated that the Times Colonist has been there, every day, as normal, through this pandemic. (It hasn’t been easy, because while we faced the same hurdles faced by other businesses, we had to keep going.)
Every person I spoke with was upbeat and positive. It might have been the perfect weather, or the waterfront location, or maybe the thought that we were all working for the common good.
We are not finished. The Times Colonist Literacy Society has a couple of other ways to raise money for literacy, and as soon as we work out the details we will announce the next one.
We might even have another drop-off day, but that will depend on how soon Russell Books can work through the mountains of books that came in on Saturday.
All in all, it was a heartwarming day. Thanks to everyone involved.