Literary jackpot

By Andrew Buck
Friday September 30, 2005

Selkirk Journal  - It takes a long time to catalogue 800 books, but that's likely the farthest thing from Wendy Ross's mind right now.

The Ruth Hooker School library clerk can thank the Rotary Club for the avalanche of books, which the international service organization donated as one of its partners community service projects. The books will seriously beef up the school's reading library and will be put to use in its successful target reading program.

"It is amazing," Ross said. "It is truly, truly amazing. There is no way our library budget could buy all those books. The kids will be so appreciative of them."

The target reading program is a literacy initiative that provides extra one-on-one practice to Ruth Hooker students. The program lives on the strength of its volunteer base, co-ordinator Melanie Olthof said. Many of those volunteers are either Rotarians or people who have been referred by Rotarians.

"This program could not run without the dedicated people we have," Olthof said. "We were told to expect a couple hundred books. I think I speak on behalf of the school and the division when I say I feel like we've won the lottery here."

Winnipeg Rotarian Myrna King said she knows the students who read the books will treasure them. That's the main reason why Rotary Zone 22 decided to throw its support behind Ruth Hooker's target reading program, King said.

"I saw the need these children had," said King, who has spent two years planning the effort. "A lot of them don't have books at home. We could have chosen a school in Winnipeg, but Winnipeg gets everything."
The donation was presented to Ruth Hooker and Lord Selkirk School Division staff at a ceremony held last week as part of Rotary Zone 22's annual conference. Zone 22 includes districts from Russia, Canada and the northern United States and its members gathered in Winnipeg for last week's conference.

King said she was hoping to receive four books from each of the project's roughly 40 partners. She was overwhelmed by the response, which saw some partners donating over 20 books each.

"We've got upwards of 800 books here," King said. "I believe in literacy. A child who can't read - if they're a leader at heart, they will still lead. If they can read, they can become meaningful leaders," the retired health care administrator said.

Selkirk Rotary Club member Elaine Elliott volunteers at Ruth Hooker and she said the club is proud to have been able to secure such an outstanding contribution.

"The Selkirk Rotary Club is so excited because they are sort of the catalyst for all of this," Elliott said.
The presentation brought another dose of good news to the school division, this one thanks to Wheelchair Foundation Canada. The foundation delivered 20 transport wheelchairs to the division in partnership with the Rotary Club. The chairs will be spread throughout the division's schools and will be used to transport injured and handicapped students.

"Your generosity is overwhelming," board chair Jean Oliver said. "The old proverb 'It takes an entire village to raise a child' is certainly relevant today