Throw-back Thursday at Books for Keeps

One of our favorite things to do at Books for Keeps is take a moment to remember how far we’ve come in just a few years.

It’s a nostalgia exercise, but it’s also a motivating exercise – right when you’re feeling a little tired or a overwhelmed – to underline the fact that we have accomplished great things and come a long way in a short period of time.


So, we’re spending today looking back at the previous two years of our annual book sale, after the conclusion of a very successful
fundraiser in which we raised $20,000. That’s right – the third annual BFK Book Sale brought in $20,000 to help us buy the books that get children excited about reading, and keep their brains active and engaged all summer long.

We had a great retail location this year in Homewood Village Shopping Center. We still managed to keep costs low, yet spread the word far and wide, thanks to sponsored advertising from
Fairway Outdoor Advertising and the OnlineAthens and Athens Banner-Herald. We had many corporate sponsors – enough to cover every single hour of the book sale, meaning that all donations made by patrons were doubled by our sponsors!

And we can’t forget our incredible volunteers. More than 75 people helped us sort, organize, set up tables, decorate, sell, break down,
haul away and clean – all in about three weeks! We cannot thank all of you wonderful volunteers enough!

We still have a long way to go toward our fundraising goals for this year – we recently made a commitment to expand to two more schools in Athens, plus two schools outside of Athens for the first time. We need partners in the community who can help us make that happen.

So get in touch! Email Leslie at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org and let her know if your business can sponsor a classroom for just $500. Tell us if you could host a fundraiser or a percentage night at a local restaurant. Or maybe even dedicate a portion of proceeds from a yard sale to assist Books for Keeps.

Can’t do much, but still want to help? Just $25 sponsors a child, providing him or her with enough books to read and keep growing those brain muscles all summer long!

That’s what we need as we look ahead, but this all started with a look BACK. So, come on a little journey with us.


Our first book sale was held in October 2011, in Five Points. It was out of necessity more than anything else – Books for Keeps had hundreds of donated books that were not right for our program. Some titles were adult fiction or nonfiction, or they were children’s books that were too well-loved or out of date to distribute to the children we serve.

It raised $3,000, and got off the ground entirely through word-of-mouth efforts. There was no advertising budget. There were a handful of printed (but mostly emailed) flyers. And everything happened through the hard work and grace of volunteers.

In August 2012, Books for Keeps secured a retail location near the Goodwill off Atlanta Highway
for the second annual sale. For the first time, we had just a couple of event sponsors providing matching donations (shout-out to Board Member Merryn Walker for her Allstate agency taking the lead, and returning to do the same thing again this year!)

There were more books. There was more advertising. We got some ink in the Athens Banner-Herald during the first full day of our sale. But everyone remained guarded about how much we would make.

In the end, Books for Keeps netted $15,000 in proceeds from that second annual sale in 2012.


Reflecting on the growth from year one to year two, it’s hard to not feel a little wistful that we couldn’t multiply our proceeds as heartily as we moved from year two to year three.

But, it’s a reminder that we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. Just like individual contributions are not enough to run a program that will soon be serving children in NINE schools both inside and outside Athens, we cannot rely on a single grant or a single fundraiser to generate the proceeds we need to supplement donations and grant dollars.

So, after taking a moment to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, the wheels start spinning on how we can make our next book sale even more successful, and how we can augment our fundraising efforts by adding new and more diverse events.

We charge onward – as we always have – reminding ourselves that this organization and this effort is so much bigger than one person, or one board, or a single group. It’s about helping children in our community pave a better future for themselves, and in turn, for everyone around them.

And that’s what really keeps us going.

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