The army of orange hit the streets of Kamloops Wednesday, armed with newspapers and a good cause.
They were out early — 5 a.m. early — on the streets, at malls and restaurants, fast-food joints and gas stations, Thompson Rivers University, the Farmers Market and the airport.
This was the fifth year the Kamloops Daily News has participated in Postmedia’s Raise-a-Reader campaign, a fundraising effort for community literacy programs. Last year, Kamloops gathered $63,000 in donations by hawking newspapers and there were matching funds thrown in by the province, said Rick Major, Daily News circulation manager.
This year’s campaign went longer than it has in the past, when it has run during morning hours only. On Wednesday, newspaper hawking went to 2 p.m., giving volunteers more time to get donations.
And donors gave everything from spare coins to a $100 bill.
Sheila Smith handed over a $5 bill for a newspaper at Save-On-Foods.
“I’m a reader,” she said. “Reading is such an important aspect for everyone.”
Smith herself has books ready for donation to the Bright Red Bookshelf Project, which has seen bookshelves set up in high-profile areas around town where anyone can take or leave a book.
“It’s essential,” she said of being able to read.
Laura and Louise Pal agreed. The mother and daughter-in-law both subscribe to The Daily News, but gave donations anyway for the specially wrapped editions being sold at the Farmers Market.
“It’s a good cause,” said Laura Pal, whose children are avid readers.
“It just brings more into their lives. Everybody should be able to read, so it’s a good cause.”
Her mother-in-law agreed. Louise Pal said her mother was a teacher and her children were all big readers when they were young. The boys, however, don’t seem to read as much now that they’re well into adulthood.
Major said 4,500 special Raise-a-Reader editions were printed for this year’s fundraising event and it was a sell out.
Kamloops has been one of the top-collecting Raise-a-Reader communities in B.C., going head-to-head with much-larger Victoria. Some people stopped by the Daily News office with cheques; one man dropped off one for $1,000.
Kamloops Storm players Connor Fortems and Jared Anderson spent an hour hawking papers at the downtown McDonald’s.
“Most people were pretty excited about it,” said Fortems.
“They thought it was a good cause,” added Anderson.
Team general manager Barry Dewar said participating in Raise-a-Reader is part of the Storm players’ requirement to be involved in charity work.
“We had one guy give us 20 bucks,” he said, impressed at the generosity for a newspaper usually priced at $1.50.
Claire Macleod, a United Way employee who donned the day’s orange uniform to join the Raise-a-Reader army, said people stopping by the booth at the Farmers Market seemed to know the event was going on.
“A lot of people came by looking for us,” she said.
“People kept a little something in their wallets to give.”
The money raised will help hundreds of children and adults in a variety of community literacy programs.