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Bok giveaway provides summer reading material for kids

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ST. IGNATIUS — The Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE), thanks to an agreement with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Union and First Book, were able to partner with public schools in St. Ignatius and Hot Springs on June 27 to provide a free book giveaway for local kids. 

“We had a really great time,” said Amanda Curtis, president of the MFPE. 

Curtis proposed the ‘Reading Opens the World’ program to local union members in the Flathead Valley to see who would be able to co-sponsor a book giveaway. Both Caitlin Shelman of St. Ignatius High School and Mindy Leicthnam of Hot Springs High School responded enthusiastically. 

With their help to put together the event, Curtis was able to order around 500 books from First Book and they all met in the St. Ignatius School Library to set up the books according to age groups. Books were available for newborns to teenagers and everyone in between, making sure all students would have something to read this summer.

“Carloads of kids showed up to pick out their books,” Curtis recalled. “They were really sweet. They asked what the limit was and what they had to do, and it was really fun to just say ‘take the books that you want to read this summer and take one for a friend (and) take one to read with a friend.’ They were so excited.” 

More than half the books were given away to students or school board members who arrived to pick up books for their kids. Some books also went to the Hot Springs and St. Ignatius libraries to be enjoyed by kids during the school year. 

This is the first book giveaway Curtis has been involved in since her start as MFPE president two years ago but is not the first book giveaway to be done in the state. What she describes as a benefit of union membership, Curtis states she would love the event to be replicated in every community across the state. 

To learn more about putting together a book giveaway, email Curtis at:

“We’re so happy to share this with community members,” Curtis stated. “It was just really great.” 

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