For more than 60 years, crowds of shoppers have filled the York City Ice Arena and other York City locations for the annual Book Nook Bonanza. The largest used book sale on the East Coast raises tens of thousands of dollars for the York Hospital Auxiliary's Small Grants Program every year.
In 2020, the 62-year tradition came to a halt. The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event.
"The Book Nook Bonanza is our biggest fundraiser of the year," said Tamara Scott, president, York Hospital Auxiliary. "The decision was made to cancel due to the COVID-19 restrictions since it attracts thousands of shoppers and would be impossible to hold with social distancing in mind. It was an unfortunate decision, but a necessary one, because our top priority at all times is safety of our community."
The cancellation left a unique problem on the hands of organizers. Throughout the year, community members had donated books for the bonanza. They were now sitting in a warehouse with nowhere to go. The creative wheels started to turn for the organizers.
"We've worked with the United Way in the past to donate remaining books for their York Reads initiatives after the sale is over," said Matthew Lane, executive director, WellSpan York Health Foundation. "This year, we felt it was very important to continue this connection to serve children in our communities by donating these books. When we learned that the sale would be canceled, we offered to donate books so the children would be able to use them now and throughout the summer."
The United Way of York County encourages reading at home by getting books into the hands of children who need them. Even before WellSpan's donation, they were able to distribute 4,200 books to school districts during the month of April.
Meanwhile workers with WellSpan Philanthropy were boxing up thousands of books that had been donated to the Book Nook Bonanza to send them to a new home.
At the end of April, United Way of York County staff pulled up to the warehouse in three empty SUVs. Assisted by a crew from WellSpan, those vehicles were then packed with 76 boxes containing a total of approximately 4,000 children's books. Those books will be dispersed to school districts and community partners who will distribute them at lunch programs during school closures.
"Having books in the hands of children is so important for their education at all levels," said Julie Myers, FOCUS Program Associate with United Way of York County. "The positive response to our book deliveries has been a bright spot in these challenging times."
Organizers of the annual Book Nook Bonanza are disappointed they were forced to cancel the 2020 event but are now looking forward to continuing the tradition in 2021. Until then, they're happy the unsold books will be put to good use.
"We are a part of this community, plain and simple," said Lane. "When we made the decision to cancel this year's Book Nook Bonanza, we immediately started looking at what we can do to turn this into a positive for our friends and neighbors, and we hope this donation is a big benefit for families across the region."
The WellSpan York Hospital Auxiliary awards many small grants in the York community to promote health and wellness as well as assist with programs and equipment in the hospital. Areas such as the neonatal intensive care unit, behavioral health unit, cardiac care and emergency department have all benefited from these grants.
Learn more about the York Hospital Auxiliary.