20 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair with Claire Leslie.01One of the many things I like doing is to volunteer, or help to raise money for a good cause.

Last weekend, it was my privilege to have helped with South Coast Lifeline Book Fair held in Berkeley, New South Wales, Australia. It went for three days – Friday 19th, Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October 2018. This book fair became the sixth one which I’ve contributed to the success of over a period of five years. To do the whole weekend is tiring to say the least, but it’s so enjoyable knowing that my time there is helping to save lives by raising money through the sale (and believe me, it’s a bargain and a half!) of thousands of donated books. Plus I’m a book nut, like numbers and love reading true stories.

Lifeline Australia is a not-for-profit organisation which offers counselling over the phone for people desperate for help or someone to talk to, and aims at suicide prevention. The remarkable thing is all the counsellors are volunteers who obviously care immensely for those who feel that their call to Lifeline is their last option, chance or hope for help out of a seemingly hopeless and inescapable situation. Lifeline also offers training and resources so others can help those in need and/or educate themselves on different mental health issues, the way they are treated and where help can be found. They cover the whole of Australia with numerous offices located in every state and Book Fairs  held in other regions.

20 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair.01.01October’s book fair in Berkeley started with over 73,000 books! The sight of that many books in one place is just incredible to see! And to watch the hundreds of people of all ages sifting through them over the whole weekend is amazing. It goes one step further as well……to prove that the old-fashioned past-time of holding a physical book and reading it, is a long way from being dead.

People come from all over the place to rummage through the literary sea. Post codes from places in Queensland, Victoria, and out west. This fair we had postcodes from Northern Territory, and a famly was here from overseas – visiting relos, but still, that’s where they live, they’re helping Aussies and they’re at our Book Fair taking books home to their country and telling people where they got them.

20 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair.02.02Some people come with a list of books they are looking for such as missing titles from their Jodie Piccoult collection. Some of them are Uni students hoping to come across one of the text books they need for their degree. I’ve witnessed lucky finds from such a search resulting in books worth over a hundred dollars being purchased for a mere twenty dollars. But you have to get in early to have a chance at those types of finds because once Sunday comes, you can be certain that the book you hoped was there, isn’t. And if it was there at all over the weekend, then it most likely walked out the door with a new owner on Friday.

As a regular Tally Table person, I get to see the books people buy as I calculate their total spendage. It’s interesting because you can clearly see their interests, hobbies and tastes by what they buy. Talking to the kids is always fun, too. So many of them end up having a conversation with you because you asked them about their book. Some of them are crack-ups. Some of them are shy.  Others can’t stop talking to you even when their parent is trying to guide them towards the door!

20 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair.04.04But the one thing they all love is…….getting a bookmark! One kid was in their pram and had three siblings standing at the table. I offered them a book mark and the look on the littlest one’s face was “what do you have?” I said to them, “You can have one too, if it’s ok.” The mum nodded and as I gave it to the child, we both said “and straight in the mouth!” Couldn’t help but laugh. Doesn’t matter what their age is, kids love being included.

The other part of the book fair I love is…….when a person donates back a book they purchased at a previous Book Fair. It’s like recycling. Someone else now gets to enjoy reading it too. Not to mention the book helps to raise a second lot of funds from being re-donated.

I absolutely love helping at the Book Fair. It’s my favourite of all the charities I’ve helped over the years.

20 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair.04.04If you are thinking about helping at the next book fair (volunteers are always needed), check out Lifeline’s website for where they are held. There is quite possibly one held near you on a regular basis. Also, donating books to Lifeline is easy. They can be dropped off at any Lifeline store or at Southern IML Pathology (in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven). Check with the Lifeline Office nearest to you, or Lifeline shop to find out if there are other places in your area. Books can also be donated at the Book Fairs. On Saturday morning, I heard someone say that there had already been more than 20,000 books dropped off! And there was the best part of two days still to go!

Volunteering for something I am passionate about is so rewarding on so many levels. I get to make a difference to someone’s life. That alone is the probably the highest reward I get from donating my time. The satisfaction I feel in helping something succeed is high on my list of why’s, as well as being involved in the community giving back so others can get the help they need, making new friends, being a part of something worthwhile, and gaining experience and skills I can take into the workforce.

Do you volunteer your time to anything? I would love to hear what it is you help with and the why’s in your decision to make a difference somewhere or to someone. Help encourage others to see the value in helping the community and others by sharing your experience.

19 Oct 2018 Lifeline Book Fair.01

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