'Please just take them:' Faith institute in small Sask. town has 10,000 free books to give away

The ultimate freebie post on Kijiji is catching attention in the Saskatoon area as a group in Bruno, Sask., is giving away thousands of free books.

Come to Bruno for the free books, stay for the cherry festival

A few of the thousands of free books the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, Sask., is attempting to give away on Kijiji. (St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission/Kijiji)

The ultimate freebie post on Kijiji is catching attention in the Saskatoon area as a group in Bruno, Sask., is giving away thousands of free books.

The catch? You need to come and pick them up and there's no cherry picking; you need to take them all — or as many as you can fit in your vehicle.

The St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno has 80-plus boxes of books sitting in a storage room, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 books. As it's a Catholic organization, most of the books are on Christian religious topics.

Chris O'Hara, co-ordinator of program promotion at St. Therese, told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend that the institute received the books as donations to its library from convents, rectories, schools, and from private estates.

"Many of these books are old, and we have replicas and duplicates, so we're not sure what to do with them," he said. "We're happy to pass on the blessings we've been given."

Volunteers spent hours sorting through the boxes, deciding which books to keep in the institute's library and which to give away. And once that was done, "we decided to put it on Kijiji," said O'Hara.

The institute's Kijiji ad touted possible alternative uses for the books as decoration or an infinite supply of papier mâché materials. (St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission/Kijiji)

Part of the ad read: "Own a used book store? Come on down! Need some decor for your coffee shop/bar/business? Look no further! Want to decorate your house in a way that makes you look super intelligent? I have just the thing for you! Passionate about Paper Mâché? Here, have an infinite supply of materials to work with!"

He said they had 10 responses over the first 24 hours.

More than they bargained for

"People have contacted us and said 'Yes, I'll take them all,' and then they arrive here and they realize 10,000 books is much more than they bargained for and they'll never fit them all in their SUV," he said.

"So we've had people go back and forth from Saskatoon making multiple trips. We've had people show up with little sedans that never stood a chance, but took 20 boxes."

Chris O'Hara says people from Saskatoon have been making multiple trips out to Bruno to fill their vehicles with books. (St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission/Kijiji)

He said people have been grateful for the group's generosity, but he added that people taking the books away are also helping the institute by freeing up needed space.

"We've had one couple say 'We can't take them for free,' and we said, please just take them. Well they showed up with a few bags of chips and a two litre of Pepsi to pay us back, so we were grateful to take that," he said with a laugh.

"But ultimately we just want to clear out the room and give our books to someone who's going to have a chance to read them."

Bruno is 90 km east of Saskatoon. If you're driving out for free books on Sunday, O'Hara said to be sure to leave time to check out the community's annual cherry festival. It kicks off at 8 a.m. CST with a pancake breakfast, followed by live entertainment, cherry-themed foods and yes, cherry picking, until 5 p.m.

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend