Community Highlight: Passionate Book Marketeer Carol Irving


Three times a year, our hallways transform into a treasure hunt for readers young and old, filled with stacks of classic hardcovers, bestselling paperbacks, and beloved children’s stories. Currently in its 54th year, the Children’s Hospital Foundation Book Market is one of our favourite Centre events (we’ve hosted since 1986!), and is still going strong thanks to the many tireless volunteers and longtime Book Market Coordinator Carol Irving. 

Irving is celebrating her 10th anniversary as Coordinator, but her involvement goes all the way back to her childhood. Her aunt got involved with the Children’s Hospital Foundation after losing her son to brain cancer, and went on to become one of the original ‘Book Marketeers’ – a group of ladies who first put the event together. The rest of Irving’s family members got involved, and Book Market truly became a family affair.

But what began for Irving as volunteer work has since opened up a whole new aspect of her life. She counts new friends, a lifelong passion for the event, a career, plus plenty of laughter, fun, and happiness among the many joys of being involved.

“It really is an amazing organization,” she says of the large community of volunteers, each with their own reasons for getting involved. “Many have had a child or grandchild who has come in contact with the Children’s Hospital. You ask and people just come. It’s very gratifying.”

Being a strong part of the community is at the heart of what we do here at St. Vital Centre, so it’s special for us to see the event touch the community and help kids in need. At the very first Book Market in 1961, the event raised $5,000 for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. As of last year, that number had grown to $453,000.

Irving says that besides seeing how much they will be able to donate, she gets a real kick out of watching both adults and children discover the book they’ve been looking for. “Oh, the thrill!” She also enjoys seeing the legacy of families bringing new generations of readers to Book Market, just as when she was growing up.

Despite the rise in popularity of e-readers, Book Market continues to thrive. “People still love to hold a book in their hands,” says Irving. “To feel the texture of the pages, to hold it and turn the pages. And people love passing on the love of a good book. When it comes to the basic concept of book market – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Want to get involved? Donate your gently loved books at any Winnipeg Fire Hall, Storageville, or Dufresne Furniture location and be sure to stop by the Centre and hunt for your ‘must-reads’ at the next Children’s Hospital Foundation Book Market, September 25th to 27th.

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