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Good Neighbours: This donation is one for the books

A children’s literacy effort has received a major boost with a donation from Orca Book Publishers.
Daphne Macnaughton unpacks boxes filled with books „ 3,880, to be exact „ from Orca Book Publishers at Saanichton Individual Learning Centre.

A children’s literacy effort has received a major boost with a donation from Orca Book Publishers.

The 1000x5 Children’s Book Recycling Project, which aims to give youngsters a chance to have 1,000 stories read to them by age five, was given 3,880 books by Orca.

The donation came when Orca’s Melanie Jeffs read an opinion piece by Times Colonist contributor Geoff Johnson, a retired school superintendent, that highlighted the work being done through 1000x5.

The 1000x5 concept, developed by Daphne Macnaughton of Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood, is based on the notion that children who have 1,000 stories read to them by age five will have a significantly increased chance of doing well in school.

The program’s books are usually “gently used,” but Orca’s contribution brings a huge influx of brand-new material.

The Orca books were sent to the Saanichton Individual Learning Centre, and volunteers recently got together there to unpack them and stage a “book-bagging bee,” sorting and packaging items by age for distribution.

The donation will go a long way toward meeting ongoing demands for material, said Macnaughton, who worked in the public-education system for 37 years.

“In order to satisfy the requests that we have during the year, we need to be collecting between 12,000 and 15,000 books,” she said.

The Saanich Peninsula version of 1000x5 began in 2008 and works closely with the Saanich School District.

A Victoria group with links to the Greater Victoria School District followed and a West Shore group was started this past September in the Sooke School District.

All three groups will share the Orca donation, Macnaughton said.

Ties to school districts play an important role in what the groups are able to do.

“We operate within the boundaries of the school districts because we have such in-kind support from them,” she said. “They give us a free place to work and allow us to use the internal-delivery systems.”

While 1000x5 is geared toward kindergarten-aged students, the program also ends up with many books suited to older children. Those find their way to after-school clubs and tutoring programs.

Macnaughton credited previous newspaper coverage with bringing in volunteers and helping to replenish the used-book supply.

She also praised organizers of last fall’s Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria, who gave the program $1,000 that otherwise would have been used to pay honorariums to speakers.

“1000x5 just continues to morph in ways that I never would have imagined when it first started,” Macnaughton said.

Book donations are always welcome.

For more information, contact Macnaughton at, Eileen Eby of Victoria 1000x5 at, and Denise Brown of the West Shore 1000x5 at

Is urban search up your alley?

Volunteer members are needed for the city’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, which was created to rescue people from damaged or collapsed buildings in the event of an earthquake.

The team is run by the Victoria Emergency Management Agency. Response efforts could involve heavy lifting or working in confined spaces, and volunteers should be willing to train in the use of necessary tools and equipment.

Among those who would benefit the team are people experienced in carpentry, construction or civil engineering, along with medical professionals.

All volunteers must be at least 19 and undergo a criminal-record check.

An introductory session for the Urban Search and Rescue Team will be held Jan. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the main Victoria fire hall, 1234 Yates St.

Register by emailing or calling 250-920-3373.

Students asked to find solutions

Post-secondary students from around the region are being sought to work with local government, business and others on a range of climate and environmental issues.

It’s all part of the Ready, Set, Solve Program, an exercise in applied learning that was successfully piloted in 2011.

Thirty students from the University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and Camosun College were asked to come up with solutions for a series of real-life challenges.

Teams must sign up by Jan. 20. Solutions to their assigned challenges must be complete between Jan. 26 and March 27.

An awards ceremony will be held in the first week of April.

The program is run by the Capital Regional District in conjunction with B.C. Hydro.

Projects are available for students to look at and include the following:

• Create a strategy for Metchosin that will motivate residents to use sustainable transportation.

• Develop an assessment tool for rating the performance of “urban villages” within the City of Victoria.

• Help the University of Victoria to eliminate paper towels from its waste stream.

• Establish a policy for local-food purchasing for catering meetings at Islands Trust.

Students are invited to sign up as teams of three or four. Organizers will try to place individual entrants on teams.

Sign up online at

Mill Bay family needs help

Friends and loved ones are rallying around members of a Mill Bay family whose mobile home was destroyed by fire a few weeks before Christmas.

With no insurance to cover their losses, brothers Randy and Bill Nielson and their mother, Gladys, are struggling to get back on their feet.

Randy’s daughter, Brandy, has opened an account at Bank of Montreal. They’ll accept donations at any branch under the name Nielson Family Support Group.

Donations of furniture and clothing can be made in Victoria at U-Haul Moving and  Storage (644 Queens Ave.) or Stronghold Eco Storage in Mill Bay (2892 Horton Rd.).

Holiday events a success

Two special events that ran through the holidays and into January enjoyed considerable success.

Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase, held at the Inn at Laurel Point, raised $16,097 for Habitat for Humanity Victoria — more than three times the amount raised the previous year.

And at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Festival of Trees brought in more than $122,000 for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Next year’s Festival of Trees will have a new chairperson, with Tanya Smith of CHEK 6 taking over the reins. Smith is community relations/promotions manager at CHEK.