Dried apple slices bringing a smile to little makers and those in need

Ring in the Holidays teaches 3-12 year olds to help make dried apple rings to raise money for Greater Trail charities.

The Trail and District Public Library is putting the gift of giving into little readers’ hands.

Ring in the Holidays invites kids three to 12 years old (and clients of the Trail Association of Community Living) to learn the true meaning of Christmas by making dried apple rings right inside the facility and selling little bags of the treats to raise money for local charities.

The sessions for children are divided by age group and skill level and include a welcome song and hand washing, peeling, coring, slicing and dehydrating the apples.

“The best part is in the end when they’ve done all of their hard work, they get to choose where the proceeds of the sales go to,” explained Kyla Crockett, community access youth program intern. “It’s a good way to get them into a hands-on activity; it’s getting cold out and there’s not a lot to do sometimes so it’s good to have something new and interesting to do inside.”

Crockett has been working at the library since September and is surprised by the unconventional, fun activities for children that library director Belinda Wilkinson has brought to the community.

“I’ve been totally enlightened by being here and seeing how much the community has to offer as far as resources,” she said.

After attending the American Library Association winter conference in January, Wilkinson was inspired by the maker space movement, a community-operated workspace where people with common interests can meet, socialize and collaborate on ideas and projects.

“Typically what it involves is taking a space and removing everything from the walls and just putting up tables and then if you’re getting really sophisticated, you’ll start to have kits and supplies for people to make things,” she said. “The idea is that people just gather at various ages and experts share their skills with others.”

On a much smaller scale, Wilkinson has brought this to the library. She has started by bringing in model aircraft building, for example, led by a local volunteer with a skill to share.

And with the new hands-on learning, facilitated by children’s programmer Darcee O’Hearn,  came enthusiasm from children and a steady flow of them returning to the library.

“It’s sort of an inspiration from crafters and hobbyists that I’m exposed to year round,” she added. “In the three years that I’ve been here, I don’t often see children 9-12 just motoring into the library after school with focus and intent to be here and spend some time here. That’s what we see now.”

The dried fruit idea came to Wilkinson after receiving a bag from her neighbour, an avid gardener who dehydrates most of what crops up in her yard.

Participants learn good hygiene, food preparation, team work and what it means to give back while Crockett helps lead them through the process.

The program runs Wednesdays, Dec. 11 and 18 for children three-five years old from 10-11:30 a.m. and Tuesdays, Dec. 10 and 17 from 3:30-5 p.m. for kids nine-12 years old. It also takes place some Saturdays from 3:30-5 p.m. for six-12 year olds.

The dried apples will be for sale in the front of the library when there’s enough supply with a goal set for the end of this week.

For more information, contact the Trail library at 364-1731 or visit its website at www.traillibrary.com.