‘Big Book Buy’ stocks local libraries

Students are shown helping shelve books at Burley-Glenwood Elementary School, just one of the local school libraries that will be helped by the Bethel Ave Book Company’s book drive this weekend. - File photo
Students are shown helping shelve books at Burley-Glenwood Elementary School, just one of the local school libraries that will be helped by the Bethel Ave Book Company’s book drive this weekend.
— image credit: File photo

Rebecca Guthrie admits that she’ll always have a soft spot for Manchester Elementary School, where her daughter attended before becoming a teacher herself.

“She had really great teachers that were so supportive,” said Guthrie, who runs the Bethel Avenue Book Company along with her husband, J.B. Hall, and partner Fran Cunningham.

But her store’s annual book drive, “The Big Book Buy,” helps all 16 schools in the South Kitsap School District.

Held this weekend for the third year in a row, Guthrie said the “Big Book Buy” gives everyone in the community a chance to stock the libraries of local schools.

“Especially this year, with the schools’ budgets the way they are, we wanted to help,” Guthrie said, explaining that the fundraiser starts by asking each school for a wish list of 10 books they would like to have bought for them.

“This year, for instance, Cedar Heights Junior High had a shortage of biographies for students to research,” Guthrie said, adding that the list of biographies the school requested included both recent and classic political names such as Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and Winston Churchill, along with teen idol and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

“Sunnyslope Elementary School’s list focuses on Northwest Education, such as books on Washington trees and other things that are a little expense for them to get,” she said.

And always, Guthrie said, the wish lists tell her what books are popular.

“A lot of schools requested ‘Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat,’” she said. “If four school want it, I know the kids are reading it.”

Guthrie said while a lot of her customers during the fundraiser are parents and grandparents of students who want to buy books for a particular school, she never worries that some schools will get slighted.

“A lot of people come in and ask which school hasn’t had a lot of books bought already, then ask to buy their books,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the community try hard to make sure that every school gets something.”

No matter what, Guthrie said every school will have new books by the end of the fundraiser.

On top of donating all the books that customers buy for the schools directly, Guthrie said 20 percent of the store’s proceeds from this weekend will also be donated to the South Kitsap Public Education Foundation.

“But if people can’t make it this weekend and still want to donate, we’ll make sure that part of their sale goes to the foundation,” she said. “We try to be as flexible as we can.”

Which the community seems to appreciate, since Guthrie said “each year, it’s been more and more successful, and we’ve been able to donate more money than we ever thought we could.”

Guthrie estimated that each fundraiser pumps about $2,500 worth of donations into local schools, with about $1,200 worth of books purchased directly, and several hundred dollars more donated to the foundation from sales.

The fundraiser officially kicks off Friday and lasts until Sunday, but Guthrie said books can be bought for the schools all week.

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