Penticton teen builds little libraries to raise money to help welcome immigrants to the community

Teen spreads local welcome

A Penticton teen has gone above and beyond to raise money to make sure new immigrants to the community are welcomed and connected, while also promoting local literacy.

Simon Otke, 15, is in his final year with Scouts Canada, and is very close to achieving the Chief Scout Award, which is the highest award possible.

He decided that building little libraries around Penticton would be a great way to give back to his community, with all profits going to the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS) organization.

"My project plan was to build the little libraries and sell them to owners, who would be responsible for upkeep, installation, and most of the stocking of books. I have sent out an email to local Scouts Canada leaders asking for book donations. They [little libraries] are 100 per cent recycled material and were almost entirely free to build," Simon said.

“Reading is one of my favourite activities, and I wanted to share the opportunity to access reading material, even in a new country. I also thought that little libraries could be a great way for immigrants to get to know a new community and meet others with common interests."

Simon and his grandfather used old plywood to create the first library box, then Simon made nine more, and sold them to people around Penticton.

He raised $400 for SOICS through the sales.

He hopes the little libraries sprinkled throughout the city will mean more accessibility to newcomers looking to learn English, explore local cultures and connect with their new neighbours.

Owners of little libraries Penticton-wide can register them on the Little Free Library website, so community members can locate their nearest spot.

The proceeds from Simon's little library sales will help SOICS continue their work providing a range of free services to all immigrants, temporary foreign workers, post secondary international students and refugees through education, advocacy and integration projects.

For more information on SOICS, click here.

-with files from Elmira Galiyeva

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