January 31, 2023
Volunteers Carol Hoffman, left, Sharon Young, Susan Gunn and Jocelyne Durocher have sold more than 10,000 books at the Sturgeon Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer Association (SHAVA) Bookstore in the first four months since its reopening after a seven-year hiatus. Photo by Sharman Hnatiuk.
Rob Hutchison, left, and John VanVeen are two of the 67 volunteers who help to sort and sell donated books, puzzles and games at the new SHAVA bookstore in support of the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert. Photo by Sharman Hnatiuk.
In honour of her legacy to literacy and fundraising, a memorial to SHAVA volunteer Mary Bondarevich is housed at the new bookstore, which opened in September. Photo by Sharman Hnatiuk.
Story & photos by Sharman Hnatiuk
ST. ALBERT — The resurgence of a secondhand bookstore here is sparking joy for literary lovers, many of whom welcome the chance to share their love of books in support of patient care at the Sturgeon Community Hospital.
The Sturgeon Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer Association (SHAVA) has a long history of sharing books in support of the Sturgeon. In 1986, SHAVA volunteer Mary Bondarevich began selling books out of the trunk of her car once a month. While sales were slow in the early days, the initiative evolved into a physical location in the Grandin Mall, where the organization was offered free rent to collect and sell books. Over the next 30 years, the community donated and bought books, helping to raise $1.5 million to enhance patient care at the Sturgeon.
When the mall closed in 2015, the bookstore found itself without a home. For years, former patrons asked the team of SHAVA volunteers in the Sturgeon gift shop when the store would reopen. In September, after securing rent at a reduced cost, the SHAVA bookstore reopened at the St. Albert Centre Mall.
“At first we were worried we wouldn’t receive enough donations to fill the space, but the support from the community has been overwhelming,” says Jocelyne Durocher, SHAVA president. “In the first three weeks, our volunteers sold more than 2,500 books, puzzles and games.”
The SHAVA bookstore is open for shopping or to accept drop-off donations during mall hours from Monday to Saturday, having arranged with the mall to give their army of 67 volunteers a day off on Sundays. With three shifts scheduled each day, volunteers can assist in three-hour blocks to sort, shelve and sell.
Most adult books are priced between $4-6 and children’s books are $1-2. Customers get 50 per cent off if they buy five or more children’s titles. Apart from the operational cost of the reduced rent, all money raised from SHAVA bookstore sales is donated back to the Sturgeon.
“Every day our volunteers hear from patrons that they’re so happy to see us back open in St. Albert,” says Durocher. “It’s such a pleasure to see a space where the gift of reading can also help patient care in our community.”
As a tribute to its founder, Bondarevich, who passed away in 2016, the SHAVA bookstore has a special memorial recognizing her commitment and legacy to literacy and fundraising.