Can you help Leighton Buzzard Book Elves appeal to support disadvantaged children this Christmas?
'Books provide escapism and mindfulness and there's no greater gift that we could give to a child this Christmas'
A Leighton Buzzard English teacher has launched The Book Elves appeal to provide presents for disadvantaged children this Christmas.
Holly King-Mand, 37, is asking families to donate any new or second hand books (good condition) to distribute to local youngsters in need.
Kind-hearted Holly shot to fame during the pandemic with her 'English Live' lessons on YouTube and doesn't want children to go without the magic of reading this December.
She told the LBO: "I set myself a target of 50 books and now I've got 700 in storage. It's been more successful than I imagined!
"There were two things that inspired me - firstly, my neighbour was moving away a couple of months ago and had a skip in front of the house with lots and lots and lots of children's books.
"They had long finished with them but they were in good condition, and I thought what a shame they weren't reused when they were popular?
"Then I was talking to my daughter, Willow, about Christmas and how some children might not be able to spend it with family or open presents.
"We talked about wrapping up some of our books and it stemmed from there."
Families can drop off their books at Book Leighton Buzzard, High Street Mews, and from there the donations will be taken to the Leighton Linslade Helpers base on the High Street and stored until they are ready to wrap.
They will be given to children's centres, women's centres, charity and community groups in the Beds, Bucks and Herts area, as well as to Milton Keynes, Luton and Dunstable and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals.
Holly added: "We've had a huge mix of donations, some from individuals, some from schools - Pulfords gave me a huge donation that I couldn't fit into my car boot - my three children were in the car with the books in the footwells. Brooklands also gave me some huge boxes. They did a wonderful job.
"I've had people from across the UK send packages to Book Leighton Buzzard and there was a lady who came in and spent £50 on books for the children."
The appeal is running for the next two weeks and during the town's Christmas Festival weekend.
They will then be wrapped in time for the big day by The Bee's Knees Business Club, Poppy Design Studio, Ali's Paper, Bembridge Castings, and Jam on Toast Marketing. Holly herself will also be holding a wrapping session at Giggle and Graze, North Street.
Holly said: "Thank you to everyone who has donated books, I'm just so grateful, and to everybody who has heard about the project and shared it on social media.
"Thank you to Jenni Blake, the manager of Book Leighton Buzzard and to the Leighton Linslade Helpers for providing a temporary storage space and to Chloe at Jam on Toast for providing wrapping paper and labels."
Holly would also like to thank all the businesses and volunteers who are helping with the wrapping.
Any books that are not in good condition will go towards a community library that Holly will be establishing in the future.
She concluded: "Books provide escapism and mindfulness and there's no greater gift that we could give to a child this Christmas."
As well as teaching English, Holly is now a writer for The Week Junior and has a late night Thursday show in Teachers Talk Radio.
She is also busy filming a downloadable grammar course for Key Stage 2 and 3 and has plans to launch a podcast in the future interviewing inspiring, well known faces such as Paralympians, and West End performers.