Books for James Bay Elementary Schools

Books raised for James Bay Elementary School Libraries!

As many of you will know, on Feb 28th I celebrated my 60th birthday with a “Cake & Ice Cream Drop-in” at the James Bay New Horizons Centre.

I had specifically requested that friends forgo bringing any gifts or cards, for me but, if so inclined, people could donate a book of children’s literature (which in turn would be donated to the two elementary schools, James Bay Community School and South Park Family School, within the James Bay neighbourhood). This was a local version of a national programme (“Le Canada en livres….Canada by the Book”), started a year ago with the Board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities!

Chris Coleman Books for James Bay Elementary SchoolsI had been hoping to collect 180 books, to be shared between the two James Bay schools and the national programme. The concept, however, clearly hit a positive nerve with many folks and by my birthday:

  • 600+ books had been collected
  • CFAX Santas Anonymous, a local children’s charity, donated $1000 to each of the schools to purchase more books
  • the Victoria Firefighter’s Union (International Association of Firefighters, Local 730) donated an additional $250 to each school
  • ORCA Books, a local publishing company, which specialises in children’s literature, adopted both schools with a gift of a further 60 titles each, to be selected at the discretion of the school librarians (value of these new titles ranges between $800 & $1300)

Thus my “drop in for cake & ice cream” became a $10,000 fundraiser for literacy programmes in our schools and across the country. I am also heartened to hear that others are planning to do variations of this initiative for other schools in our region.

I offer a profound “thank you” to all of you who called… hosted… helped out… donated… volunteered… came for cake and conversation. Most particularly, I give thanks to my wife, Judith, who continues to implement my sometimes daffy ideas!

I’m sorry that all of you couldn’t be with us on Monday March 3rd when we donated the books and the monies collected, to the two James Bay schools. The excitement of the children, and the graciousness of their “thank yous” was proof positive that the concept is absolutely on target… and it became the best birthday present I could have ever received!

Cheers, Chris Coleman