The Snowflake Project

Elizabeth Bluemle -- December 9th, 2014

Snowflake Project

Every year before Thanksgiving, families start asking us when we will have our snowflakes up in the store. They aren’t asking about wintry decor; they want to know when they can start picking out presents for kids they don’t even know.

For 16 years now, The Flying Pig has been working with various area agencies — local food shelves, programs that support families, children and teens, and projects that connect incarcerated parents with their children through books. These agencies send us lists of the people they serve; no names, just “boy” or “girl” and an age. We cut out paper snowflakes, one for each person (most years, the snowflakes are for children, but sometimes, we are able to include books for the parents, too), and fill the store with them.

Then, from the weekend after Thanksgiving until mid-December, families flock into the bookstore to share their favorite books with families they may never have met. We have customers who have participated in the Snowflake Project for all 16 years. What we love most is the excitement and thoughtfulness of kids carefully picking out the most treasured possible gifts for other children. Often, kids will pick snowflakes for children a little younger than their own age; it’s not entirely clear if this is because, now that they are older, they are more confident about the very best book to choose for a younger child (i.e., they have a strong sense of which of their former favorites stands the test of time) or if they simply feel protective toward the littler cubs. Either way, there is nothing lovelier than a child taking a long time to pick the right book for an unknown friend.

This year, we have more than 100 snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. Sometimes, people would like to participate but either don’t have the time that day, or don’t feel they have the expertise to choose a book for a young person, so they will donate funds and ask us to choose the books. That’s fine by us, too. Every year, we are grateful to celebrate in this way the profound, enduring love people have for books and for their fellow travelers on this planet.

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