Every year we have a Snowflake Giving program. Each snowflake represents a local child who might not otherwise get a book this holiday season. On each snowflake we list the gender and age of the child in need. The program started 19 years ago with about 30 kids. This year we’ll have more than 200 children from our local food shelves, Children’s Literacy Foundation, and the Lund Family Center. The increase in children is partly due to the increase in families using some of these services, but also our reach into more of the community. This program has gotten so popular that customers have stopped me at the grocery store to ask when the snowflakes will be up.
I love that this program has become a tradition. It’s not just adults who ask about it. Kids do too, and this delights me. Every year, as we have more snowflakes than the previous year, more and more child shoppers get exposed to the concept of charity and helping others. This is so important to me. For some children, this is their first exposure to seeing that there is a kid who needs help. And there’s nothing that makes me happier than to see a child really thinking about what kind of book another kid, a total stranger, would want.
So many families come in looking for snowflakes. The gift of books cannot be underestimated, and so many of our customers understand this. Kids, especially, hunt around for their most favorite books to give. One nine-year-old said this weekend, “I need to give The BFG.” That’s all she said, but the way she held the book close told me this was a very special book for her and she wanted another child to have that same experience. We wrap the books and then the organization comes to pick them up.
We offer a 20% discount on the Snowflake books as a way of saying thanks. Many customers will just hand us money, sometimes $100, and ask that we pick out books for them. One customer, Ellen, has already said to call her if we’re needing help getting some of the books sold. She actually sets aside money so that there’s no possibility of a child not getting a book.
This is the best part of the holiday for me. Store owners, what store-wide charitable giving program do you have this season?