Though it might have been a cold and wet Wednesday morning in Vancouver, four Whitecaps players were on downtown street corners selling newspapers to help promote literacy.
Men’s team captain Jeff Clarke, fellow midfielder Alfredo Valente, right fullback Geordie Lyall, and striker Eduardo Sebrango were just a handful of volunteers selling special edition copies of The Vancouver Sun as part of the 11th annual CanWest Raise-a-Reader campaign to help promote children and family literacy in British Columbia. Since its inception in Vancouver back in 1997, Raise-a-Reader has raised over $3.45 million to help support literacy programs in the province.
As Wednesday was ‘Raise-a-Reader Day’, hundreds of volunteers took to the downtown Vancouver streets to raise donations during the morning rush hour. Volunteers first gathered at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for an early morning pep rally, as dignitaries like the Premier Gordon Campbell spoke of the importance of the literacy initiative to the gathered audience. The volunteers were then divided into their respective groups before heading out to their designated street corners in the hopes of receiving plenty of donations from the public. The volunteers included a wide variety of individuals from the community, like the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service and the Vancouver Police Department. Even Vancouver Canucks left winger Taylor Pyatt made an appearance in the team’s new-look jersey.
Even though daylight had yet to break by the time Valente reached the corner of Robson and Seymour, the midfielder was happy to lend his hand to the literacy cause as a morning newspaper salesman. “It’s one event that I haven’t done in the past, so it’s exciting to come out here,” he told whitecapsfc.com. “I’m not much of a seller, but I’m trying my best this morning. I know there’s quite a few guys out to help out with the initiative, so we’re excited about being part of it.”
Just a few blocks away on the corner of Richards and Dunsmuir, Clarke received generous donations from passers by for the cause. The central midfielder is delighted that the Whitecaps support such important initiatives like literacy awareness. “I think of all the initiatives that the club has been involved in, literacy helps with life skills in general,” Clarke said. “The Whitecaps have shown their commitment to that, and we just try and reciprocate as players by donating our time to causes like this.”
Since 2001, Raise-a-Reader has been a national literacy fundraiser, with similar events held across Canada. As part of the initiative, a series of concerts will also be staged, with international recording star and Burnaby native Michael Bublé lending his support to the cause.
Click here for more information on how to donate to the Raise-a-Reader campaign.
Click here to see images from Raise-a-Reader Day and Alfredo Valente read to school kids in Burnaby on Wednesday.