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Benevolent books

by Travis Britton / Vancouver Canucks

How long do you think it would take to collect 10,000 books for a good cause?

For Armaan and Ameeqa Ali it was a five-year process that continues to grow and gain momentum. To date the siblings have successfully collected and re-distributed over 10,000 books.

Armaan and Ameeqa, students from Mulgrave High School in West Vancouver, organized a school book drive in 2008 to support education and reading for the Canucks Family Education Centre (CFEC).

The main purpose of the annual book drive is to collect new and gently-used books to be shared with schools and communities throughout the lower mainland. It took Armaan and Ameeqa two years of planning and organizing to get the program up and running, and in year three they were able to fully run the program they had envisioned.

By a simple act of sharing, Armaan and Ameeqa have helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of families in Vancouver.

Armaan credits his mom for giving him the desire to help others. Since he was a little boy his mom always stressed the importance of reading, making himself and his sister avid readers from a young age.

“I guess it sort of just clicked because reading has done so much for me, that it can do so much for other kids as well,” said Armaan. “And it sort of stemmed from that, we want to share and we really want to stress the importance that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, reading is something that can help out all children.”

After increasing their total of books collected in the previous two years from 2,500 to 3,500, the two students had high hopes the upward trend would continue.

“Lets see how it goes but 5,000 wouldn’t be a bad target to reach or maybe 4,000,” smiled Armaan. “The more books we can share the happier people will be.”

Asked where the collected books would go, Armaan and Ameeqa didn’t think twice. They knew from the start they wanted the books to go to the Canucks Family Education Centre.

Garibaldi Annex Elementary School was this year’s choice to share the collected books with as it is one of the many locations that CFEC supports and operates. By the smiles plastered across the faces of all the students at the elementary school, the book drive was a phenomenal success.

Much of life’s success and where we end up is highly dependent on having a strong foundation in reading and writing. That’s where the Canucks Family Education Centre comes in and distributes the books to schools and communities a little less fortunate. CFEC positively impacts the lives of many families on Vancouver’s East side and other locations throughout British Columbia, by providing the resources to combat low literacy levels.

CFEC’s founder and director, Jean Ramussen, said programs such as this wouldn’t be possible without help from the whole community.

“I really like people, and I like working with them, I like seeing what they need and want for their future and if there is something we can do to help facilitate that, were there, but it takes the Vancouver Canucks, the Canucks for Kids Fund, Raise-a-Reader, the school boards, the schools and special individuals in the community, such as Armaan and Ameeqa Ali. I really believe it takes all of us.”

It just goes to show that this young man and his sister not only share a love for reading but a love for doing something for others. And it’s not about their success it’s about helping others so they have success as well.

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