PALMER — A large number of people passed through the Palmer Festival of Books event within the Turkey Red banquet room Nov. 20, picking up free books and listening to stories from the Bright Lights Book Project.

The event ran all day with a variety of visitors, including numerous local families. People were able to pick up as many used books as they wanted from dozens of boxes crossing every genre for readers of all ages.

Beth and Cady Youngblood stopped in to check out what was going on at Turkey Red in the midst of their mother/daughter shopping trip around downtown Palmer.

“We love books,” Beth said. “I think it’s great service.”

Whether it’s classic literature, a modern romance novel, or a collection of science fiction short stories, there was a little bit of everything to choose from. That’s also the case for all of the free book sites placed across the Mat-Su Valley by the Bright Lights Book Project. Volunteers save books from landfills and give them a second shot at life.

“It’s just awesome that they’re not going to waste,” Cady said.

Bright Lights Book Project volunteers periodically sort through discarded books at Valley Community Recycling Solutions on top of community donations and allocate them to participating sites ranging from shops and restaurants to post offices and health centers.

Bright Lights Book Project coordinator Alys Culhane said that she was thankful to have the space at Turkey Red to put on this event.

“It’s been remarkable,” Culhane said.

Culhane the high turnout and overall feedback added another sense of encouragement to their ever-growing cause to save books from going to waste while fostering local literacy.

Bright Lights is in the process of becoming a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization. Culhane said they have a vast inventory and they’re seeking volunteers to help sort and distribute books.

“It’s beyond encouraging. I had a vision and this is exceeding it,” Culhane said.

Looking forward, Culhane aims to keep expanding the program with efforts such as establishing a “Book-Mobile” to serve as an on-the-go distribution center.

“The exciting thing is thinking about taking this on the road,” Culhane said.

For more information about the Bright Lights Book Project, including how to volunteer or host a community bookshelf, email alysculhane@hotmail.com

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

More Information:

Participating Bright Lights Book Project sites:

Vagabond Blues, Turkey Red, Valley Hotel, Sunrise Grill, Valley Country Store’s Trunk Road location, 203 Kombucha, Mat-Su Senior Services, Willow Pointe senior apartments (call first), Sutton Post Office, Sutton Native Health Center, Mat-Su Borough building

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