Got a pile of used books gathering dust? Give them to one of these organizations and pass along the love of reading
BY JUMOL ROYES
Garage sales, regifting, a box labelled “free” on the curb: these are the tried-and-tested ways to unload unwanted items, like books that your kids (or you!) have outgrown. But what if we told you there was a better way to pass on books—one that will make you feel really good, and make someone else really happy?
Unfortunately, many Toronto-area children don’t know what it feels like to own a book—let alone outgrow one—and lack of exposure to books and reading can have serious consequences. “Countless studies show that owning books, rather than borrowing them, is linked to higher literacy rates,” says Loribeth Gregg, manager of programming and volunteer engagement for the Children’s Book Bank. “In turn, higher literacy rates are directly linked to lower poverty rates.”
Consider donating your used books to one of these GTA charities and community organizations (that benefit kids and adults alike), which have a shared commitment to helping your gently used books find new homes in hands that really need them.
The Children’s Book Bank Where: 350 Berkeley St., Toronto How to donate: New or gently used books for kids aged 12 and under can be dropped off from Monday to Thursday, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on Tuesdays), and Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Board books, concept books (ABC, 123, etc.) and books featuring diverse characters are always welcome. Unsure if your donations fall into the gently used category? Here’s a tip: If you’d give the book to a child as a gift, then it’s in good enough condition to donate. Who it helps: The Children’s Book Bank provides free books and literacy support to kids in low-income Toronto neighbourhoods and operates a storefront space in the Regent Park–St. James Town community. “Making a donation to the Book Bank means you are making a direct contribution to poverty reduction for children in the City of Toronto,” says Gregg.
YMCA Sprott House Where: 21 Walmer Rd., Toronto How to donate: Books in good condition that touch on a variety of topics are accepted. Staff are on-site 24-7, so drop-offs can happen at any time. Who it helps: YMCA Sprott House is one of the largest LGBTQ+ transitional housing programs for youth aged 16 to 24 in Canada, and one of only a handful of similar sites across the country.
Mackenzie Health Richmond Hill Hospital Where: 10 Trench St., Richmond Hill How to donate: Bring gently used books (paperbacks only, please!) to the gift shop from Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and on weekends and holidays, between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Who it helps: Mackenzie Health is a regional health-care provider serving more than 500,000 people across York Region.
Interim Place Where: Confidential address in Mississauga. Call (905) 403-9691 ext. 2223 or email email@example.com to schedule a delivery. How to donate: Donated books are accepted during regular business hours from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Who it helps: Thanks to supporters like United Way Greater Toronto, Interim Place is able to provide shelter, support, counselling and advocacy to help abused women and their children break the cycle of violence.
Book Clubs for Inmates Where: 720 Bathurst St., Toronto How to donate: To donate books to prison libraries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Books should be in good condition and have no CD-ROMs attached. Paperback fiction (novels) are widely popular. Who it helps: Book Clubs for Inmates runs volunteer-led book clubs within Canada’s federal prisons, helping people who have been incarcerated develop literacy skills and empathy.
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