Volunteering with Twice Upon a Time

Happy National Volunteer Week!

Whether we are preparing Christmas hampers, cycling in the CHEO ride for charity or paddling for reconciliation, Systemscope encourages and celebrates giving back to the community. I’ve been lucky for the last few months to volunteer with Twice Upon a Time.


Twice Upon a Time is an organization that gives free books to children in Ottawa. Their mission is to support early literacy and foster a love of reading by making books available to children from birth to twelve years old. Twice Upon a Time explains that:

  • Public libraries are not enough: Families under stress may have difficulty getting to the library, returning books on time and paying fines;
  • Children who own a book are more likely to read at or above the expected reading level for their grade; and
  • Owning as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on propelling a child to a higher level of education.

Children who visit any of the Twice Upon a Time locations can choose a new, or near-new condition, book for themselves to keep for free, each time they visit. Twice Upon a Time has partnered with community organizations around the city including the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, Confederation Court Community House, Housing Support Office at the Taggart Family Y, Overbrook Community Centre and Heartwood House. Children and parents served by these organizations can select free books to keep each time the volunteers visit.

I have been volunteering with Twice Upon a Time for 3 months at the Taggart Y location. Children and parents who live at the Taggart Y are invited in to choose a book to take home and keep every week. During my two hour shifts I set-up and supervise some basic arts and crafts, organize the book shelves, sort and shelf new books, read to the children and help visitors find the perfect book.

I love organizing the book shelves and stumbling across books I loved as kid. While no-one has taken home Benny Bensky and the Perogy Palace by Mary Borsky yet, one child took home Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch during my last shift. My favourite part about volunteering with Twice Upon a Time is when a child chooses to take home one of my favourite childhood books.

How do you give back to your community? How’re you celebrating National Volunteer Week?

Mary Aksim is a consultant with a focus in information management and contract bid preparation. She started at Systemscope as a co-op student and transitioned to a full time consultant in 2018.


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