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The gift of reading keeps giving through Books & Co. fundraiser

Dec. 3, 2012

City of Oconomowoc - It's that time of year where the act of giving takes on special meaning, and a local business is making it easy for you to give to children in need.

Books & Company is once again offering customers the opportunity to select a recipient from its Holiday Mitten Tree and gift them with an age-appropriate book.

The program is run in partnership with the Oconomowoc Food Pantry,

Patrons select a mitten from the Mitten Tree and then purchase a book for the child at a 20-percent discount.

The store will gift-wrap the book and donate it to the Oconomowoc Food Pantry.

These books will be given to families who visit the Food Pantry during November and December.

"This is our fifth year (doing the Mitten Tree program)," said store owner Lisa Boudin.

Lois Jackson of the Oconomowoc Food Pantry is touched by the generosity of the store and the community in providing the holiday gifts.

"They supply the books already wrapped for the kids for us to give the child. It's just wonderful," she said.

Several hundred books have been donated through the program, she said.

Boudin said she first heard of the idea for the Mitten Tree at a convention, and it stuck with her as something she would like to implement.

"Years ago I was at a book show, and a bookseller that had recently retired did it, and I carried that idea and brought it with me here," she said.

So far this year, Boudin estimates they have 75-100 books purchased through the program for children ranging in ages from birth to 12+.

"I even think we should extend it to adults," Boudin said, with an eye on the future.

"Books just make such perfect gifts. They give again and again," she said.

Boudin said they replenish the tree with mittens as needed.

"We just keep filling it up (the tree). We work closely with the food pantry. They'll let us know if we need more of this, less of that. On their next pickup, they'll give me a sense of that," she explained.

The program runs from mid-November until right before Christmas.

"They try to get it all in before the holiday," she said.

Boudin has watched as community members have embraced the program.

"We have families come in, and each of the children pick out their favorite book to donate. I had a guy the other day come in with a certain dollar amount, and we helped pick out four or five children's books," she explained.

"It's a really fun program, and it just grows every year," Boudin added.

The store owner sees the program as beneficial for all parties.

"I just think it's a great way to get books in the hands of kids. People feel really good when they give an actual item for a gift, rather than money.

"What I like about the program is you're supporting a local business, and you're supporting your neighbor who might be in need, and you're supporting a charitable organizations. When we do that, we're helping the community grow. When we give books, we encourage reading and that makes for better citizens and that makes our community grow," Boudin said.

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