Starting in mid-November, our calendars and hearts are chockablock full: Thanksgiving, three family birthdays, gingerbread houses, baking, gift choosing and wrapping and giving, advent calendars, endless treats, homemade gifts, projects, school plays, parties, family visits--and that's on top of our normal, weekly activity.
Among all the holiday activities, the Book Angels Program is my favorite.
When we lived in Illinois, we trekked to Anderson's Bookshop every December. Their Book Angel Program invited patrons to buy books for local children in need, and we loved choosing books that other children might love.
When we moved to Seattle, our local bookshop, Secret Garden Books' holiday giving program was defunct. Christy McDanold, the shop owner, and her staff no longer had sufficient time to run the program.
But I did. Last year, we reinstated the program and provided books for 84 children in our community.
This year, three local schools provided children's names and book preferences. (As you might imagine, I keep a spreadsheet!) My girls chose their angels first, and spent a while poring over bookshelves, finding the perfect titles. My parents and sister were in town when I hung the angels, so this was a family affair.
We wrapped our books to display in store, and hung 117 paper angels throughout the shop.
We invited patrons to choose books, and then the magic happened.
People in our neighborhood opened their hearts and wallets to provide books for children in need. Many customers bought multiple books for their chosen children. All told, people gave more than twelve dozen books to local children.
We had piles and piles of books! My dear friend, Kristina Cerise, accepted pizza and beer as payment for helping wrap all those gifts. (Kristina blogs--often hilariously--about motherhood here.)
Nine days before Christmas, I delivered those precious parcels to an elementary school, a middle school, and a K-8.
I wore a Santa hat and blasted Christmas music as I drove around NW Seattle (but was totally calm and hatless inside schools, I swear.) My heart was full to bursting; delivery day was my favorite day of the year.
My family's emphasis on charitable giving and literacy dovetail perfectly in this program. I love helping people in my community, and I love bringing people to books. I hope children enjoy the books they receive. I hope their holidays are a little brighter.
And I hope to do it all again in eleven months.
*Photo credit: Me. It's all me. You can tell, because they're not very artful! I wish I had a photographer's eye.
I blog rarely, because I'm writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: