Wilma Birkett and Mike McLeod volunteered with Wrap-a-Read, the program of the Langley Literacy Association that provides a new book for each child helped by the Langley Christmas Bureau. (Bailey Martens/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley literacy group able to give 1,800 books to Christmas bureau

The Wrap-a-Read program was possible this year thanks to community contributions.

The Langley Literacy Association has been overwhelmed by the support of the community for its holiday appeal for book funding.

Some key grants were not approved from previous businesses as in the past for the Wrap-a-Read program. The association provides a new book for each child receiving support from the Langley Christmas Bureau. It was in danger of having to pick and choose which kids received books this holiday season.

“This year was looking very precarious,” said Kailey Erickson, the association’s literacy outreach coordinator.

The group has never had to pick and choose which children receive books in the 14 years it’s been providing books through the Christmas bureau.

So the literacy organization asked the community for help.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Erickson said.

More than $3,000 in donations came in from the community for Wrap-a-Read. The association will provide books for about 1,800 children from birth up to age 18. Each year the association spends about $10,000 on new books.

Parents, when they visit the Christmas bureau to obtain the gift bundles for their children, select the books for their kids.

“The parents put in a lot of time to pick,” Erickson said.

She said occasionally a parent comments that their child doesn’t read but the volunteers distributing books point out that there are books for all interests.

She noted that parents know their kids best and they often see parents delight in taking home a book they know they can read with their children.

“They’re seeing the connections they’re going to have between them and their kids,” Erickson said.

The association partners with the Fraser Valley Regional Library and gets help selecting books from library staff. It also relies on many volunteers to help get the books to the families. About 30 of them work during the bureau’s Toy Depot days when the families pick up their gifts and books. The volunteers include members of Friends of the Library, retirees, and other community members.

“I think we have about 100 hours of volunteering,” she said.

Donations can still be made to Wrap-a-Read via mail to the Langley Literacy Association, 20399 Douglas Cres., Langley, V3A 4B3, or in person at the Langley Early Learning Centre (in Willoughby Elementary), at 20766 80th Ave.

The association also offers literacy tutoring for all ages and the Literacy Now program that works to foster the literacy skills local residents will need for the future. It’s an initiative that is a legacy of the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. Learn more at the Langley Literacy Network website.

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