Northshire Program Gifts New Books to Local Children
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The team at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs is looking for angels to help them gift books to around 300 local children this holiday season. Northshire Bookstore’s Book Angel Program is celebrating its second year at its Saratoga Springs location and provides books to young readers of all ages.
The annual holiday tradition began in Northshire’s flagship Vermont store about 20 years ago as a way to get books in the hands of kids who might not be getting them otherwise.
“We ask local schools and not-for-profits for names of kids who might not be getting much for the holidays this year,” said Rachel Person, events and community outreach coordinator at Northshire Bookstore. “We ask them to give, if possible, the first name only, the age, reading level, and something the kid is interested in.”
That information is represented on paper ornaments hung on a beautiful Christmas tree in the children’s section on the second floor of the bookstore. Some requests are general guidelines, such as, “Boy, 6, loves animals,” while others can be more specific: “loves Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” This is where you get to polish your halo! Choose an ornament and find a book that matches or donate a specific amount and the Northshire team will pick out books for appropriate ornaments.
“We commit to every single child whose name we get to make sure they get a book,” said Person. “We wind up donating a significant number of books.”
For every five books purchased for the program, Northshire donates one. Once the books are selected, the Northshire team takes care of gift-wrapping and sorting the books for delivery, ensuring every book is given to the children before the start of winter break.
This year, there are approximately 300 students from three local elementary schools and Maple Avenue Middle School who will be receiving books through the Book Angel program; an increase from the 200 students from two schools who participated last year.
“We’re hoping, over time, to be able to expand first to every elementary school in the Saratoga Springs City School District and then to some of the outlying schools,” said Person.
With only about one week left for the program, Northshire is hoping to receive more donations. All books need to be wrapped and delivered to the schools by Monday, Dec. 22, which means all donations need to be received by Sunday, Dec. 21 at the latest.
Book Angel organizers say the program is well-received by both the local school district and the community. In fact, Book Angel is made possible through public and private donations, as well as funds provided directly from the bookstore.
“The kids love it. We got the most amazing thank-you note from Geyser Road Elementary School last year,” said Person. “The kids wrote on doilies and then laminated them and hung them from a big sign…the little hand-written notes were so sweet. I heard from some of the teachers that the kids were flabbergasted to have randomly gotten a present the last day before [winter] break and not know who it was from. The kids really were thrilled by it.”
Northshire is open Sunday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. To make a monetary donation online, visit www.northshire.com.
The bookstore will also be open on Christmas Eve -- Wednesday, Dec. 24, until 4:30 p.m. for last-minute shoppers.