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Annual Christmas event features book giveaway

CENTRAL POINT — When Table Rock Kiwanis Club member Jerry MacLeod initiated a book drive more than three years ago, he figured the project would give parents and grandparents a chance to clean out the books that accumulate in bags and boxes as their children's reading skills evolve.

Almost four years, and some 6,000 to 8,000 books later, the book drive is an annual affair, commanding its own storage shed and serving as a resource for schools, libraries and a handful of local events.

The project's biggest giveaway of the year will take place Friday at the Central Point Community Christmas event.

MacLeod, who started the project within the club, said the drive serves a great need of providing books to children who need them and keeping often new and quality books from languishing in storage.

"We get a lot of really nice books," he said. "We've had some brand new ones given to us."

"It's been a really fun project for us to do this for kids. The important part is to keep them reading."

Harry Gerhard, treasurer for the Table Rock Kiwanis, said the event is a win-win for the community, putting quality books in the hands of local children and recycling useful items.

"It's a lot like the collection for coats for the kids," he said "It's something where the item is still useful. It's just a matter of it taking a little time to collect and sort and distribute the books.

Aside from the city Christmas event, the club provides books to the summer reading program at the Jackson County branch library next door to City Hall, on Second Avenue, and to area Boys and Girls Club locations and other youth organizations.

Gerhard said the club places a half-dozen collection bins at various business locations, currently including Fidelity Print Quick, People's Bank and Albertson's, and rotates them at various times throughout the year.

Sarah Garceau, special events and recreation coordinator for the city, said the book drive is a great asset to the city's holiday event.

"It is great to have so many free activities at our Community Christmas where families can come and not only have a great time, but leave with books and presents for their kids," she said.

The Kiwanis Club book giveaway on Friday will be inside the Central Point Library conference room. Donations are welcome and children of all ages are encouraged to visit and take advantage of the free selection of books.

"It's always a busy place," Gerhard said, "and there will be a lot of happy faces."