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Students at Sisler High School set out to collect 700 books to distribute to low-income indigenous families. They ended with 1500 books.

It's a result that Awab Jelani, chair of Sisler's student group Inspire, hoped for but didn't fully expect.

"I was kind of surprised," the grade 11 student shared. "I knew we could beat 700, I thought we'd probably be around 1100, but we managed to get almost 2000. The amount of support we got was really great."

The book drive ran throughout February, and the group was able to donate more than double their original goal to Share the Magic.

"The thing about books and children is that you can see a spark in the children's eyes when they see a book for the first time, or whenever they listen to bedtime stories, and something like that is inspiring, like our name," Jelani shared. "We saw what [Share the Magic's] goal was in improving literacy rates and we went 'okay, we want to help'."

Jelani said Inspire seeks to improve connections with low-income indigenous families. For the past two years, students have found the best way to do this is through sharing stories.

Last year, Inspire collected more than 400 books through their drive, and partnered with the organization Share the Magic to get the literature into the hands of those who they felt would appreciate it most.

Sisler's Inspire group collected over 1500 books to donate to Share the MagicSisler's Inspire group collected over 1500 books to donate to Share the Magic

The Share the Magic book program collects new and gently used books and gives them away in communities without books. Chris Melnick, executive director, shared that one reason for the student's exceptional success this year was because of widespread effect of the drive.

"It went beyond the school into the broader community," she said.

According to Melnick, it's about breaking down barriers, and the donation from the students at Sisler will go a long way towards achieving that goal.

"It's incredible," Melnick responded when asked about the impact that Sisler's books will have. "At any time, Share the Magic has a 13,000 book waitlist, so these books here are really helping."

Certainly, thanks to the work of Inspire, many children will now get to experience the "spark" of reading.

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