MOSCOW — Retired teacher Nancy Amos remembers the first day one of her students walked into her classroom in Potlatch.

The child told her he didn’t like to read and never would. Amos made it her mission to change that, employing a number of strategies, including giving him a book from First Book, Team University of Idaho.

At the end of the year, he had transformed so much he spent at least one recess reading a book, Amos said.

“That is what you want,” she said. “(You look for) how can you get the spark from the kid.”

Even though she is retired, Amos, of Palouse, still spends part of her time trying to put books in the hands of children.

On Saturday, she was raising money for First Book, Team University of Idaho at the Alternative Giving Market of the Palouse at the Latah County Fairgrounds in Moscow.

Her group was among 29 not-for-profit organizations that participated in the event, including the Moscow Volunteer Fire Department, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and Moscow Area Mountain Biking Association.

Each one had a table with information staffed with volunteers or paid employees who described the work of their groups and answered questions.

Would-be contributors walked among the tables, many carrying paper sheets that listed all of the organizations where they could record how much they wanted to give any of the groups. Before they left, they could make a single payment that organizers of the market split according to the directions contributors provided on the list. They could also get cards with the logos of the not-for-profits that received their dollars to give instead of presents.

Those attending the event had different approaches.

Gina Gormley of Moscow was giving to Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute and Conservation Opportunities, which supports the Moscow High School Environmental Club because family members were raising money for them.

She liked that organizations didn’t know how much each person gave until after the event ended.

“There’s no pressure,” she said.

Melissa Rockwood of Moscow planned to spread her donations among as many organizations as possible.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” she said.

Rockwood has attended the market every year since it was founded more than a decade ago. The philosophy behind the event is to provide a way for people to give presents to their friends and relatives who don’t need any more material items, said Sandra Kelly, of Moscow, an organizer.

The groups like it because they raise a lot of money and frequently recruit new backers, she said.

“It doesn’t take long for them to start bragging about their groups because they are really great organizations,” Kelly said.

At the First Book table, Elinor Michel of Moscow was doing just that, explaining how efficiently the group uses money. Most books only cost First Book $3, she said, because it is allowed to order them from a source that has greatly reduced prices.

And she noted, it’s not just young children who benefit. Books for teenagers were given to an alternative high school in the region.

One student, who had not been open to learning, read two over the summer and returned to earn her GED certificate, she said.

Not far away, Mary Silvernale Shook was encouraging people to add their good wishes to a wooden stud to be used in a house Palouse Habitat for Humanity will soon begin building in Moscow.

The stud will be installed in a special ceremony with the family that will live in the home and Palouse Habitat volunteers, said Silvernale Shook, a communications and development specialist for the not-for-profit.

“It’s always a really joyful sharing because there’s so much love and support in our community,” she said.

Williams may be contacted at or (208) 848-2261.