I didn’t have time to post last Friday’s “Celebrate the Small Things” so I’m posting it today instead—a few days late, but…oh, well. Welcome to the We-Don’t-Follow-No-Stinkin’-Rules Blog. Okay…just kidding (sort of). Friday I was too busy to sit down, no less sit down at my computer and post something to my blog. For those visitors hearing about the “Celebrate the Small Things” for the first time, take a look at my previous post to see what it’s all about.
This week I’m celebrating my local library’s successful book sale. Twice a year a group of volunteers put their lives on hold for a week to run a used book sale at our local library. During book sale week, the volunteers’ families don’t get fed, their dirty laundry piles up, and everything in their personal lives gets put on hold because by the end of the day they’re too tired to want to do anything but sleep. I’m one of those masochist volunteers who helps with the book sale (and, yeah, lets my dirty laundry pile up).
Although the public only sees volunteers working during the sale (keeping the books organized, helping people find books, or carrying books to customers’ cars) some volunteers work all year long getting things ready for the sale. A group of people collect, sort, and stack mountains of books for months leading up to the sale, plus start advertising the sale well before it happens. Then the week of the sale as many bodies as can be recruited lug thousands of books out of the storage area and to the sales room. Anywhere from two to three full days are spent getting the sales room set up with all the books in their proper categories. The actual book sale lasts only three and a half days—although to those of us working it, it seems so much longer. Those are the days we only have time to shovel in handfuls of M&Ms for nutrition and when we start to notice how neglected our yards are looking as we pull out of the driveway each morning. After the sale is over, it takes several more hours to pack up and move the leftover books to wherever else they end up. Running the book sale takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work by a devoted group of people--or by a group of zombie-like creatures who don't know better. It hasn't definitely been established which category the volunteers fall into.
Why do these volunteers do this year after year, putting in countless hours without being paid? First off, maybe no one told them that slavery is illegal in this country. Okay...kidding again. Maybe. Or, perhaps they just appreciate how many people benefit from the book sale. Local people get to de-clutter their houses of excess books they no longer want. People coming to the sale get to buy books they DO want at bargain prices. Parents tend to buy their children tons more books than they ever could afford to buy new. Students and teachers also get to buy books that they also couldn’t afford to buy new. Adults find books they had as children. Dealers and other lucky customers occasionally find books that are worth a lot of money on the secondary market. Our two town libraries get extra money for things their regular budget doesn’t cover, and those items that get purchased or the programs they offer benefit the community. And…this year, the leftover books will be donated to help set up libraries in underprivileged areas of Africa, so the sale is even helping people in other parts of the world. It’s a win-win-win-win-win situation.
As a writer, I want people to read, and offering low costs books helps encourage reading. Also, helping with this sale gives me a boot-camp-worthy workout from all the lugging, lifting, moving, and shelving books. Why pay to join a gym when I can get a complete workout (for free) helping the community?
So, this week I am celebrating successfully raising money for a good cause, promoting reading to people in the community, donating leftover books to areas of the world that don't have the luxury of books available like we do, plus getting physically fit in the process.
Now, if only I could find some volunteers to tackle the mountains of dirty laundry piled up in my house I’d celebrate even more. Please leave a comment and make my day (not as much as if you came to my house and did my laundry for me, but I guess I can’t get too greedy here, can I?)