Laps for literacy

Using a newly revitalized track and field as inspiration, Kiwanians support literacy with a massive book drive.

Story and photos by Curtis Billue

The Kiwanis Club of Brantford gets 20 hours a year to use the Kiwanis Field, and one signature project held every summer is its Laps for Literacy event, where thousands of books are donated to the club and laid end-to-end around the track. About 2,000 books are needed to circle the 400-meter track, and in their first year, the club lapped the track with 2,208 books. 

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After building the Kiwanis Field, the club saw a natural fit to tie reading and the track as a service project.

“The body and the mind are both important,” says organizer and Kiwanian Crystal Glaves. “And we’ve always supported literacy programs.” 

This book drive helps local schools and organizations such as Brantford Little School, YMCA and Brant Family and Children’s Services get books into the hands of children who need them most. 

“Books are getting expensive,” says Glaves, “and out of reach of more and more families.” 

Glaves says she believes there’s nothing better than a book in your hand. She also says it’s important, especially for a child, to have ownership of quality books.

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Although this past year’s event brought the drive inside due to rain, it didn’t dull the spirit of the community. Generous townsfolk pulled up in vehicles and Kiwanians in blue unloaded boxes of books into the nearby gym.

The collection ranged from baby books to stories for early teens, cooking curly noodles to unraveling quirky poetry, from hockey histories to haunted stories, and flights of fantasy to friendships that endure. 

As the volunteers sorted the books by age range, some of them occasionally stopped to reminisce about an adventure they read to their kids or grandkids. In the end, the books found new homes and, with any luck, helped a child discover the love of reading.

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This story originally appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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