PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Most people go to the Star City Holiday Light Parade for enjoyment.
Students and staff at Northern Maine Community College go to the popular parade to expand education.
This year, students and employees at NMCC are once again collecting children’s books to give away along the parade route on Dec. 5.
This is the fifth year NMCC has undertaken the initiative, which is a major service activity for the campus.
In early fall, the college turned to the community for assistance in collecting books. Donors so far have contributed more than 600 books.
Since this year’s book drive began, numerous community members, NMCC students and staff have brought new and used children’s books to the college.
In addition, several County organizations, including Box of Books, Bookmart, First Book of Aroostook, Catholic Charities of Maine and the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library, have contributed boxes of books.
“We really want to have at least 1,000 books on hand in time for the parade,” said Colleen Harmon, a business technology instructor at NMCC. “The more children we can provide with a book, the better.”
Harmon launched the book collection project six years ago and has coordinated it along with others every year since.
The initiative began as a way to give back to the community and to provide area children with something along the parade route that is more beneficial than candy canes.
During the parade, NMCC volunteers dress up as elves and hand out hundreds of books to kids of all ages enjoying the parade.
Harmon said the initiative is particularly vital at a time when the downturn in the economy still is being felt.
“Everyone should be able to read and everyone should be able to have books without worrying about it taking away from paying for fuel to heat the home or food for the table. With the current state of the economy, this is especially true,” Harmon said.
Shannon Smart, an NMCC student from New Sweden, will join dozens of other students and staff in the book distribution this year. She noted that the nighttime parade is often held in frigid weather, but added: “All of us who participate are left with a very warm feeling inside as we see the joy on the children’s faces along the parade route.”
Individuals or organizations with children’s books to donate to NMCC to be given out during the 2009 Star City Holiday Light Parade should contact the development and college relations office at 768-2809 or drop off books at the information window in the main lobby of the Christie building at the college.