By Ashley Lodato

The Cove’s 8-year-old Manger Mall program is ramping up to provide Methow Valley children with a robust gift season, enhanced for the fourth year by the incorporation of a book donation program. (Manger Mall is a program that gives families with limited funds access to gifts, toys and now books to give as Christmas presents for their children. Shoppers pay $1 for one traditional gift and one handmade item for each child they’re purchasing for, with gifts averaging $15-$20 in value.)

Manger Mall volunteer Mary Kolts was inspired by a book donation program in Teton Valley, Idaho, where she and her husband, John, lived for 10 years. When the Kolts moved to the Methow and Mary got involved with Manger Mall, she brought the book gifting idea to the Methow’s Manger Mall team, which immediately embraced the idea.

“We give parents a chance to pick out a free book for every child in the family,” says Kolts. “We have books of all types, for infants through 18-year-olds.”

To this end, Manger Mall needs community members to pitch in to help provide a wide selection of books in ample quantities. The best way to participate is to go to Trail’s End Bookstore in Winthrop and take advantage of the 10-percent discount they are offering for Manger Mall purchases. The bookstore is also keeping a list of books purchased and suggested books still needed. 

Or, in looking through your personal collection, you may find books in new condition that would be appealing to kids. If you have inscription-free, like-new books, you can bring them to donation boxes at Mick & Miki’s Red Cedar Bar in Twisp, North Cascades National Bank in Twisp, the Methow Valley United Methodist Church, and Winthrop Fitness & Physical Therapy. Cash donations that would be funneled into book purchases are also welcome.

“Why doesn’t Manger Mall accept used books?” you might ask, and justifiably so, given our increasingly disposable consumer economy. Although used books obviously serve the same purpose as new books, part of Manger Mall’s objective is to give children the experience of receiving gifts that seem to have been created just for them — gifts that have not already been used or played with by another child. We all remember the magic of new things, and while we grow more comfortable with used items as we mature, there is something uniquely special about being the first to own a book, toy, or other gift.

A retired speech and language pathologist, Mary Kolts has been an avid reader ever since she learned to read. “I love giving and receiving books,” Kolts says. “We always give books to our grandchildren.”

Kolts notes that families shopping at Manger Mall spend a significant amount of time poring over the book selection, picking out just the right book for every child, realizing, perhaps, the power of words to ignite imaginations, nourish spirits, and transform lives.

PREVIOUSLY, IN WINTHROP

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