By Jeniece Roman
WALLINGFORD — Chelsea Fitzgerald continued the tradition of collecting book donations and holding a bake sale at her home on Saturday.
Fitzgerald, 13, has been holding the drive since she was 7 years old.
“We’ve gotten a lot more books over the years and our bake sale has grown tremendously,” she said.
The sale featured an assortment of brownies, cupcakes, cookies, trail mix and dog treats. Patrons could also purchase raffle tickets for various prizes.
Book donations were also welcome Saturday. Proceeds of the bake sale are used to buy books for Read to Grow, a national organization that promotes building literacy from birth.
“We found the Read to Grow organization and they said we can collect books and they would come pick them up and sort them.” Fitzgerald said. “Then we decided to add a bake sale onto it because I love baking so much.”
It all started when Fitzgerald saw her older sister receive a community service award from the town and decided to combine her passion for reading with her desire to help others.
In the first year, Fitzgerald collected more than 500 books. Six years later, the number of donated books has grown.
“Last year we hit 4,323 [books] and the year before we reached 5,000 [books],” Fitzgerald said.
“It started with a few hundred books and a small little bake sale,” said Chelsea’s mom, Gina Fitzgerald. “It just blossomed from there.”
It took the mother and daughter one week to bake all the treats sold Saturday. Fitzgerald said her goal now is to expand by informing more people about the year-round book drive and the bake sale.
“We have been doing this for six years and last year my goal was so high,” Fitzgerald said. “I want to involve different people, because we have a lot of repeat customers.”
Fitzgerald created a Facebook page, Chelsea’s Book Drive and Bake Sale, where she posts updates about book donations and baking photos.
“[Chelsea] wants to carry it through to high school until she graduates,” her mom said. “From the looks of it I guess it’s going to grow on a yearly basis.”