Define “the best.”
Here are three possible answers: Indie bookstores, the people who support them, and the people who run them.
This year, the generous patrons of five bookstores donated 789 books to the low-income, at-risk, and rural kids CLiF serves. The first wave of these books arrived in mid-December, brightening the holidays for many kids.
Just like every bookstore has a different vibe, every bookstore runs a book drive differently:
- Norwich Bookstore’s Book Angels drive brings in hundreds of books each year. This year, they padded the boxes with some superb, high-demand graphic novels.
- At Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, the “Book Bears” drive filled the store with images of young readers. Patrons picked up an ornamental bear coupon to receive a discount on books purchased for CLiF. One generous donor even contributed a gift certificate to CLiF in lieu of the books themselves.
- At Next Chapter Bookstore in Barre, owner Cynthia Duprey donated the proceeds of used book sales along with the books she collected on her Giving Tree.
- The Flying Pig in Shelburne, VT runs a Snowflake drive, matching books with specific community kids who need them. Books from the Flying Pig’s customers went to kids whose mothers are incarcerated at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. CLiF is partnering with Lund’s Kids-A-Part program to serve these families.
- Hiata DeFeo of Waterbury’s own Bridgeside Books also decorated a Giving Tree with ornaments representing book donations. Every year, her seasonal kickoff event draws crowds from the community for hot cider and a festive storytime (this year with Sarah Dillard, author of Extraordinary Warren and others). Over the season Bridgeside customers donated a whopping 362 books!
The books that come through bookstore drives are of the highest quality and curb appeal. Each book is chosen with care by someone who can visualize a kid taking it home and loving it. And the drive benefits the store as well.
Jane Knight of Bear Pond Books says, “Partnering with a local organization for events and fundraising is always a win-win relationship. There are new connections made and there is plenty of goodwill created, which builds stronger communities. Bear Pond is humbled by the generosity it witnesses each holiday season as customers not only want to share their favorite books with a child through CLiF, but in many cases, they absolutely won’t accept a discount off the books they donate — they want to support Bear Pond to the fullest extent at the same time. Giving brings out the best in all of us.”
Independent bookstore staff know you and your neighbors. They help you find the book you want — and order it if they don’t have it on the shelves. They support local nonprofits. They keep cash circulating locally. And this holiday season, you and they brought a new book to love to nearly 800 local kids.
That’s something to celebrate!