Community, Education, Springfield

Dropping ‘book barriers’ – BookFest organizers hold fundraiser at PublicHouse

Lizzie Gray, project coordinator with Connected Lane County, helps students from kindergarten to second grade go through books during the BookFest drive. BookFest is a community-wide book drive for K-2 students to have books to read over the summer. Photo provided

SPRINGFIELD – Summer reading is critical for students still learning to read, which is why Connected Lane County (CLC) and United Way of Lane County have created the community-wide book drive, BookFest.
”The goal is to let (kindergarten) through second-grade students self-collect books to take with them for the summer to help prevent some of the summer learning loss, which we know happens and it sets students back for next fall,” Lizzie Gray, project coordinator for Connected Lane County, said.
To help support BookFest, PublicHouse hosted a Pint Night on Jan. 28 and donated $1 from every pint sold to the book drive. Of the 10 schools that BookFest is partnering with in the County, two are in Springfield at Dos Ríos and Guy Lee elementary schools, and two are in Cottage Grove at Bohemia and Dorena elementary schools.
Gray said that BookFest has done similar events at Ninkasi, and often asks community partners if they are willing to donate or host a book drive.
Other sponsors BookFest has had include a large, personal contribution from community member Kristina Payne; Leading Haas Groups donated over 1,000 books, as did St. Vincent de Paul. Columbia Bank has eight drop boxes that have collected almost 600 books and Wayfair has sponsored book drives, donations and volunteers. Gray said that of their 90 volunteers last year, one third of them were from Wayfair.
”We have a fantastic team in Springfield with strong interests in several causes, one of which is childhood literacy,” said Joel Johnson, Wayfair Springfield site director. ”We have been thrilled to provide support via donations and volunteer efforts to provide books and access to books through our support of BookFest and the Springfield Public Library. Being able to put books in the hands of kids, see their excitement and encourage reading as an activity is incredibly fulfilling and something our team is happy to support in any way we can.”
BookFest started two years ago when CLC and United Way identified seven schools in the County to target; this has since grown to 10 schools.
”Some students don’t have books at all in the home, and some communities don’t have libraries,” Gray explained. ”It’s a great idea to drop all the barriers to books.”
She added that in third grade, the reading benchmark is pivotal to a student’s education because that’s the grade when the switch from learning to read morphs into reading to learn. For students who are struggling to read in third grade, catching up is much harder.
Although BookFest has just started fundraising for this year, from Pint Night the drive has made $175. Gray said she enjoyed the event because of the social aspect that came with interacting with BookFest’s sponsors and partners in the community, but that the most rewarding aspect comes during the sorting and organizing days in March and April.
”The conversations that come up with people recognizing books and titles they haven’t seen in ages or books they have read to their children” make it, she explained, ”a really fun day.”
People interested in volunteering during sorting days can sign up at the United Way website (, and businesses interested in hosting a book drive can contact Gray at [email protected].



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