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Memory of Paradise man inspired book drive for elementary school

Alyssa Canning with her children Abby, left, and Dylan Lynch, presenting a donation of over 200 books to Octagon Pond Elementary in memory of Maxwell Canning, Alyssa’s only brother. Chad Feehan Local Journalism Initiative Reporter photo

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Octagon Pond Elementary has received a donation of 200 children’s books in memory of Maxwell Canning, who was the uncle of two young students at the school.
After Canning died in a car accident in 2022, his only sister Alyssa Canning ran 5km and donated $1,000 to Threads for Life, a fundraiser dedicated to lives lost in the workplace.
This year she’s set her sights on bolstering the Paradise school’s library shelves in her brother’s honor, after having spent time volunteering with the school.
“I listened to kids talk about books, and it kind of became my love,” she said. “I listened to them and what they wanted.”
Alyssa ended up raising far more books then she expected, after receiving an outpouring of support from her family.
Originally the goal was to raise 25 books, which was Maxwell’s age at the time of his death, but eight times that amount would make their way into the hands of eager young readers.
Librarian Cora Leigh Pike commented on how the price of books can limit how many they are able to put on the shelf at any given time.
“Having the budget to always continuously grow our library can be a struggle,” Pike said. “You’re always looking for donations or fundraising to build this library for our children.”
Amidst the stacks are sought-after titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Guts, The Bad Guys, and Pete the Cat, which will now have enough copies of each to meet the students’ demands.
Alyssa hopes to do something for the community in her brother’s honor every year.
“I think he would be proud,” she said.

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