If someone wearing a safety-orange T-shirt offers you a deal on Wednesday, Sept. 25, don’t worry.
They’re selling words for a good cause.
It’s Raise-A-Reader time again.
This is the fifth year that The Daily News has pitched in on the annual fundraiser that gathers money for literacy causes.
Raise-A-Reader volunteers will be ‘selling’ special editions of The Daily News at McDonald’s locations and the downtown Farmers Market, as well as some other key spots around town on Sept. 25.
All proceeds go to KELLI (Kamloops Early Language and Literacy Initiative) and LinK (Literacy in Kamloops).
During the past five years, Kamloops residents have given nearly $280,000 to Raise-A-Reader. Last year alone, the campaign collected $80,000 for those literacy groups. The province kicked in matching funds.
Daily News circulation manager Rick Major said the community response to Raise-A-Reader is huge, with donations in Kamloops ranking third in B.C., behind the much-larger cities of Vancouver and Victoria.
“And we’re closing in on Victoria,” he said.
It’s an initiative that touches the lives of people from pre-school to adulthood, and even inmates at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, who access literacy programs there.
Jane Cobb, a children’s librarian who has published two compilations of rhymes and songs for children and parents to share, was in Kamloops this week to promote the Mother Goose program.
“The good thing about this program and the reason I keep promoting it is it fosters attachment as well as literacy,” she said.
“There are a lot of parents who don’t know how to play with their children, if they haven’t learned that from their parents.”
She teaches the parents a variety of rhymes and songs for children from the time they are born to early school years.
“Infants as young as six months old learn the pattern of the rhymes. So long before they can speak, they can understand language. They feel it with their whole bodies,” she said.
After 10 years of involvement in the Mother Goose program, she has seen the effect on its ‘graduates’ as they grow up.
“I see the parents and kids several years later. The kids have an easier time socializing and reading at school, integrating into their social milieu. And the children are storytellers,” said Cobb.
“Every Canadian parent should have access to this program. What government wants to fund this program? It doesn’t show results for 10, 20 years. But these are the kids more comfy with language, become the storytellers, musicians and poets of the future.
Major said Domtar staff donated the proceeds of its golf tournament last year. This year, even though times are tougher for Domtar and its employees, they came through with a $5,000 cheque for the campaign.
Enthusiasm hasn’t waned at The Daily News, either.
“After five years, we’re still as excited as ever to put on Raise-A-Reader,” said Major, who is chairman of the campaign.
Volunteers get into the groove, too. Thompson Rivers University basketball and volleyball teams go head-to-head to see who can hawk the most papers and get the most money for the cause.
They are joined by other teams, such as the Kamloops Blazers and Kamloops Storm, as well as service clubs and individuals.