2021 Volunteer Award Recipient

The University of Lethbridge Bookstore is an icon on the uLethbridge campus. As the go-to spot on campus for all the essentials that students, faculty and staff need for their day-to-day activities, the Bookstore has also become a hub for student engagement.

What separates the Bookstore is that it is so much more than a retail location. It’s a landmark, a meeting spot and, over the years, has emerged as an inspirational leader for a number of important societal campaigns and student and community issues. One such campaign is the annual Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation Christmas Tree Festival and Gala.

The Bookstore first began its participation in 2004 and has been a strong supporter of the annual initiative ever since. The Bookstore routinely crafts an aesthetically beautiful and well-themed tree, often referred to as the Tree of Knowledge. The trees are renowned for their striking visual beauty and decorated with more than 100 books every year. In addition to the small library found on the tree, the successful bidder will find gift certificates for services, activities and events taking place at and put on by the University. It is a proud representation and symbol of engagement for uLethbridge as a valuable community partner and source of educational and research enlightenment for the southern Alberta region.

The Bookstore staff also puts great effort into creating a theme of expression for each tree, capturing the needs of our community. These themes have included Canada’s 150th anniversary, (books written by Canadian authors), the Pride Tree (LGBQT+ themed literature), the University’s 50th anniversary and Letters from the Past. In 2016, Bookstore staff obtained 1,500 vintage air mail envelopes and stationery. Inspired by this, they recruited over 1,000 students from local schools to write letters of well wishes which were distributed by volunteers to over 1,000 patients at the Chinook Regional Hospital and Green Acres Foundation at Christmas time.

Since 2009, over $26,400 has been raised for the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation from the auctioning of the Bookstore trees. There have also been multiple years when tree buyers have donated the Tree of Knowledge to local schools, further spreading knowledge and expanding educational opportunities throughout the region.