The following article is reproduced with permission from the Editor of the South Pacific Edition of the Lion magazine and the author Joe Franklin of the Kapiti Lions Club.
Photographs are by Joe Franklin and Jim Blackford

A Monster Project One To Be Proud Of

The Combined Lions Clubs of Kapiti Annual Bookfair

By Joe Franklin

In October 2009, the Combined Lions Clubs of Kapiti ran their 12th annual Monster Bookfair. The event netted $41,000, which will be distributed to six worthwhile organisations in January.

This year’s proceeds brought the total grants distributed since the event was first held in 1998 to an amazing $310,000.

Peter Cresswell
Peter Cresswell beside the Melvin Jones award he received for his part in the monster Kapiti Book Fair

This is a project Lions can be proud of. It had its birth in 1997. A fundraising committee set up several years earlier to build a new community centre at Paraparaumu had run an annual bookfair but by 1997 it had achieved its objective and the committee disbanded.

However, three forward looking Lions Club of Kapiti members who had served on that committee, (PDG Gary Benton, Bill Pearson and Walter de Ruiter) saw the opportunity of establishing an annual bookfair on the Kapiti Coast to raise proceeds for charitable organisations.

Gary put this idea to his club. As expected there were reservations because of the time and effort required to run such an event. The answer was to set up a management committee comprising members of Kapiti’s four Lions clubs, Kapiti, Kapiti Pakeke, Parawai and Waikanae and to operate the event as a joint clubs project. Later, the newly established Kapakapanui Club became the fifth member.

Ex-Kapiti Club member Paul Shotter was the inaugural chairman of the organising committee followed by Lion Warren Biddington, who continues to serve as secretary.

Signs Erection Sept 2011
Putting up a road sign Peter Cresswell, Peter McCullum and Peter Jones

By the following year, the committee had set up an effective management model and ran the first Lions Monster Bookfair in October 1998. It was a success. More than 1,000 cartons of books were collected and raised $16,000. But it was just a beginning. This year, 65,000 donated books went on sale and the operation grossed about $47,000.

When Warren stepped aside as Committee Chair, Kapiti Pakeke Lion Peter Cresswell took over the reins and he has superbly headed the last six events. (Last year Peter was honoured with a Melvin Jones Fellowship for his commitment to the Bookfair and other Lions activities.)

In 2008 under the new rules introduced by the Charities Commission, the bookfair project came under the auspice of the Combined Lions Clubs Charitable Projects Incorporated Society. Each year at its AGM the Society invites all members of the five Kapiti Clubs to nominate for the position of chair, treasurer and secretary for appointment to the committee responsible for organising and managing the project.

Jean Tolra (with arm in a sling) leads a team of sorters from different Lions clubs

The bookfair is a model of inter-club cooperation. In broad terms, the Lions Club of Kapiti does the marketing, collects donated books from the many drop-off points around the district and delivers them to a central storage area. Parawai Lion Jean Tolra then manages the Parawai and Pakeke members who sort, price, pack and store the books.

They meet weekly from May to early October. Jean also identifies highly collectable books, which go to public auction. This year alone, the team logged about a thousand hours. An incredible effort!

On the Thursday preceding the sale, Kapiti Lions, including a group of college students, load out more than 2000 cartons of books from storage and truck them to the Waikanae Memorial Hall. Waikanae Lions club members assist in unloading into the venue, setting up the tables and barrowing the cartons to the tables under the 36 category signs. Members of all clubs combine on the Friday to place the books on the tables and establish the tills, EFTPOS facilities and security systems.

Ready for the onslaught of customers

On the day of the event, when thousands of customers arrive from all over the lower North Island and the Hawkes Bay, members of all clubs fill a roster to provide door security, the public address voices, restock the tables, keep the venue tidy and trouble-shoot. (There’s been the odd dispute, especially among second-hand dealers competing for choicer titles.) Others concentrate on the dealers, totalling their purchases and securing payment. Parawai Lions provides food for staff on the day.

It’s a lot of hard work each year from the time the call for books goes out through the media. The Kapiti Observer sponsors twice-weekly colourful classified ads and local radio stations are generous with their community notices broadcasts.

Customers queuing before the doors open

Mention needs to be made of a collection box, in the shape of a huge book, which sits at one of the Coastlands Mall entry points, constructed by Kapiti Lion Peter Mansfield. It has become an annual fixture in the mall and throughout the collection period needs to be emptied almost daily. Collecting gets into full swing from June right through to September when books, jigsaw puzzles, DVDs, CD’s, LP records, sheet music and magazines flow in continuously. In early October it is necessary to publish an “enough books thanks” news release and to withdraw the district collection boxes.

The day of the event brings its reward to all those who have been involved. Book lovers queue well before the doors open at 8.00am and swarm into the hall. The pressure remains right up until the doors close at 8 pm.

Chairman Peter Cresswell says Lions can’t thank Kapiti Coasters enough for their great turnout each year. “They donate thousands of books, then came to the Bookfair and buy different titles,” he said. “Many use the sale to stockpile reading from one bookfair to the next! It’s great to see so many people of all ages browsing the tables. Childrens’ books are always in demand and there are many youngsters there. Obviously not everyone spends their time glued to the television!”

The book fair in progress

Sunday morning sees the big cleanup. A skip outside takes care of books that are never going to sell and other suitable surplus books are donated to colleges and churches including the Salvation Army. Those for resale go into storage for next year. “It’s a great relief around midday, when the venue is ship-shape and the doors are locked. I can tell you there are a lot of tired Lions by Sunday afternoons after the sales, most of them age beneficiaries!” Peter said.

Recipients this year will each receive $8,200. Each club nominates its own beneficiary. The Bookfair committee issues a cheque to each club and each makes its own presentation, usually at a special dinner meeting hosted by the Waikanae Lions Club in January.

This year’s beneficiaries are Youth Quest Kapiti, Kapiti Women’s Refuge, Ronald McDonald House Trust Wellington, Mary Potter Hospice, Parkinson’s Society Kapiti Horowhenua and the Waikanae Fire Brigade.

Members of the bookfair committee are Peter Cresswell (chairman), Warren Biddington (secretary), Reg Grant (treasurer), Jean Tolra (sorting and pricing manager), Joe Franklin (marketing and publicity), Jocelyn Brown, Bob Ewing, Jim Hall, Peter Mansfield, Andrew McDonald, Julie Parkinson, Jim Randall, Inez Ritchie, Margaret Swain and Gary Wearne.

The Combined Lions Clubs of Kapiti wish to acknowledge the assistance given by the Kapiti Coast District Council by providing the use of premises for the sorting and storage of books.