The cards recognized the Icehawks’ contributions to the school’s three-year long effort to stock the library and classroom shelves with books.
“It feels great,” said Harrasyn. “When I was a kid we didn’t get too many hockey players to come in and do this for us. It’s a good experience for the kids to have something like this.”
Throughout the past three years, the Icehawks donated the use of their travel bus to the school for the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation grant.
In 2010, the school received the $85,000 grant to spend on books and other resources for the 260 students over the next three years.
In order to utilize the grant money, the school decided to take students on field trips to choose their own books at the Indigo bookstore location in Saskatoon. The school approached the Icehawks to inquire about renting the bus to make the trip to the city.
“When I looked at the cause I said, “No, we’ll just give you the bus,” said Icehawks general manager Allan Pasloski. “Whatever expenses it would have cost them to charter a bus went 100 per cent towards buying books.”
Since receiving the grant, the school has made 15 trips to Saskatoon – a total expense of approximately $15,000.
Without the Icehawks’ bus, the cost would have been subtracted from the grant.
“We rode in fashion,” laughed library technician Eleanor McGillvray. “It was good because all the books fit underneath (and the students) would take a lunch and stuff.”
During the trips, Grades 1 to 8 were able to pick out their own books when at the bookstore, one for the library and one for their classroom.
“By taking the kids shopping, it’s become their library now,” McGillvray said. “For them, I think it gives them more ownership of the room. And they respect it because they know their book is somewhere and a lot of them remember where it is, which is good. (The experience has) taught them a lot.”
“A lot of these kids never get to go anywhere and to get to go to that big store in Saskatoon was pretty amazing” McGillvray added. “And if you ask any of the Indigo staff, they were very impressed with them, (the students) did a good job.”
McGillvray estimates that she has about 7,000 books left to catalogue in the library from the last field trip.
Since receiving the grant, she said some sections of the school’s library have more than doubled, including the easy reading and non-fiction sections.
“We’ve had to buy new shelves in the library and it’s really stretched our resources that way too,” principal Connie Schill said. “These are good problems to have. We have a lot more books in our classrooms now.”
Prior to the grant, many teachers bought books themselves for their classrooms. Many classes from pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 did not have books at all. Now each class boasts a selection of about 60 to 90 books.
Besides providing transportation to Saskatoon, the hockey team also spent time reading with students.
“We were always looking for something to be involved in the community,” Pasloski said. “When this was brought to our attention we just thought it was something we had to do. It’s a great cause … Anything that we can do to support the youth is the biggest thing for us.”