Books have helped a local 11-year-old girl expand her imagination, but never in her wildest dreams did she expect the kind of support she received during a recent book drive that she organized.
Katie Wilson, a Grade 6 student at Riverview School, had hoped to collect 1,150 books this year in order to add one book to each hamper delivered by Samaritan House.
"I was really surprised and happy to know that there are people listening and willing to help and take care of the community," Katie said after she collected 2,674 books and dropped them off at Samaritan House to be included in the Christmas hampers.
Katie, an avid reader, got the idea last year from her teacher, Lynn Nicol, who encouraged her students to make a difference and develop a strong social conscience.
"Not only do people need food for their bodies, but they also need food for their brain," Katie said.
And Katie has also inspired some of her peers, as it was a couple of friends who helped her deliver box after box of books to the charity.
She already has designs on extending the book drive with the goal of making sure everyone who wants to read will have access to a good book.
"We were shocked and it’s unbelievable and unexpected how many people donated," Katie’s mother, Sandra Wilson, said.
Sandra said most of the books were donated from people from within city limits and even a couple of businesses — Coles Bookstore and George Strange’s Bookmart — stepped up to donate books for the hampers.
"Even people that she dances with came up to her — a little girl came up to her and told her that she saw her in the paper and wanted to donate some of her books, which was really sweet," Sandra said.
She was impressed with the wide variety and quality of the books that were donated.
"There was everything from board books for infants right up to books for adults," Sandra said. "I was really impressed with the quality of the books — new authors, popular authors and books. The books were in great shape and I was impressed that people weren’t just giving away their junk books. They were giving away really good books."
Each month, Samaritan House provides more than 1,000 hampers to the needy and the December hampers were stuffed with the donated books.