European Community Support Award


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2016 Winner

Alegro Alfragide Shopping Centre
“Blind Date with Books” campaign

This year, the ICSC Foundation has recognised the Alegro Alfragide and Alegro Setúbal shopping centers, located in Lisbon, Portugal, for their outstanding “Blind Date with Books” campaign. The philanthropic campaign targeted children and young people from vulnerable socio-economic contexts, particularly the descendants of immigrants and ethnic minorities, and promoted the power of literacy through book donations and designated reading areas.

The Alegro Alfragide and Alegro Setúbal shopping centers teamed up with the charitable association EnTreCul to respond to the needs of their local communities. The “Blind Date with Books” event cultivated a healthy reading environment through the creation of “reading rooms,” which contained 1,000 books wrapped in false covers. The phony covers added a further meaning to the event by encouraging participants not to judge a book by its appearance and let the story, the real essence of the book, lead the way. 

Participants could read freely in the event space or share a more intimate space together for an additional fee. To support book sales, extra discount coupons were hidden randomly inside the books. The space also featured a children's corner, where young readers could relax, draw and listen to animated storytellers. A core component of the event was a donation bookshelf dedicated to EnTreCul; this feature was so successful that it is now a permanent fixture at the centers. The properties formed a strategic alliance with well-known book editors Leya and FNAC; Leya provided reading materials, while FNAC guaranteed the sale of the books at the event.

The successful campaign heightened awareness around the importance of healthy reading habits and fell in line with the centers’ greater mission to promote social and cultural development.