SNACS Book Fair attracts hundreds of bibliophiles

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Photo: Shirley Nadeau

Over 860 happy book lovers attended the SNACS Book Fair, this year spread over three days. Organizers were delighted with the turnout and the fact that they surpassed their fundraising goal with a total of $10,600.

Hundreds of people attended the annual SNACS Book Fair at the Eastern Québec Learning Centre on Oct. 24, 25 and 26. This year, for the first time, the event was open not just Saturday but also on Thursday and Friday evenings, to better distribute the huge rush usually attending the Saturday-only sale.

The QCT visited the EQLC gymnasium on Friday evening, and all was calm and bright. Some 20 people were leisurely perusing the tables, on which thousands of books were displayed.

In the months and weeks before the sale, the SNACS participants carefully sorted the donated books (fiction, romance, business, law, biographies, history, fantasy, children’s books, cookbooks and French-language novels), and arranged them on tables in the EQLC gymnasium the week of the sale. There was even a table labelled “Treasure Chest” covered with books that had arrived just days before the sale that the SNACS participants and volunteers hadn’t had time to sort before opening night.

Jeffery Hale Community Partners and Voice of English-speaking Québec collaborated with SNACS Entrepreneurs to run the sale.

Helen Walling, one of the many SNACS volunteers who were there on Friday evening, said there had been close to 300 people at the sale the previous evening. “We didn’t know what to expect. I thought we’d only have 50 or 60 people on Thursday, and we were pleasantly surprised by close to 300. We’ll have to see if those were people who used to come on Saturday. Last year we had over 750 people on the one day.”

Walling explained that all the money raised goes to the SNACS program for young adults with special needs. “Basically we develop work platforms for the participants, and that includes getting ready for the book fair; organizing books in alphabetical order by genre and author is part of the work they do. We’ve been sorting since last Sunday. We had over 1,100 boxes in storage in the basement with 20 to 25 books per box; that is a total of 25,000 books! We probably received another 5,000 books this week. Our objective is $10,000. Last year we raised close to $9,700.”

What happens to the leftovers? “The Cadets help us pack up. We keep a lot for next year’s sale. Some go to another community organization, Signe d’Espoir, and we recycle some of the books that are really old and in poor condition,” said Walling.

SNACS Entrepreneurs is an innovative social enterprise that is a spin-off from the SNACS (Special Needs Activities and Community Services) program, which offers social activities and life-skills training to English-speaking children and young adults with disabilities.

The goal of SNACS Entrepreneurs is to offer on-the-job training opportunities and employment to young people with special needs while also providing the community with quality services.

Sarah Blair, a teacher who works with young people with special needs at Quebec High School, explained that students can remain in the SNACS program until they turn 21. “This year,” she added, “there’s a new program for the older students called RISE. We have six who currently meet at the Jeffery Hale [pavilion], but very soon they will be moving over to the gatehouse at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. That building will be their school.”

At the end of the day on Saturday, Richard Walling was happy to announce that a total of 860 people had attended the book fair; he added that their goal had been surpassed, as a total of $10,600 was raised.