A RECENT addition to Bendigo's retail environment is bringing stories to readers and shoppers in the CBD with all proceeds going back into the local community.
Volunteers Bryan Baker and John Smith estimate the income from second-hand books at the Lions charity bookshop, is around $75,000 - and that figure is on the up.
"Every cent is returned to the community," Mr Smith said.
"Six Lions clubs are involved in looking after the management of the business and every three months the income is distributed to those clubs and, the condition of operating, is it's all returned to the local community."
Funds have enabled the purchase of a SOZO machine or a non-invasive bioimpedance spectroscopy device at St John of God hospital, and have also supported a cancer detection caravan and the Relay for Life.
The Maiden Gully community garden, Huntly CFA and local school scholarships have also benefited from the cash, as have projects like the O'Keefe rail trail and Heathcote dog park.
Mr Smith said Lions also regularly contributes to flood, drought and bushfire appeals, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, cancer and mental health research and Guide Dogs.
In just over 12 months the bookshop in Hargreaves Mall has become a thriving hub for donations which are processed at a warehouse.
Both premises are generously offered to the Lions club by owner Mr Baker who is keen to see life return to the mall.
And that process of reinvigorating the main thoroughfare has already progressed.
"It started off as working only four hours a week on Saturday," Mr Smith said.
"Then they graduated to Saturdays and Wednesdays, eight hours a week.
"And in the past three months we have moved up to being open five days a week from 10am until 3pm, closed Sundays and Mondays."
Books have arrived from as far as Melbourne, Ararat and Echuca and have been delivered in person, picked up or dropped off in the collection boxes in front of the workshop.
Books not sent into the main store are kept in the warehouse for sales held during the second and last weekends of the month, from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Lions Club members Sandie and Wayne Morris are two regular volunteers who work a few times a week cleaning, sorting and boxing the best books to be sent to the store.
"They come in here and they get sorted out and cleaned and put in their individual categories," Mr Morris said.
"The best quality go to the shop and the rest we have here."
On warehouse sale days, there are some terrific offers to get people reading - including $5 bags for certain books including children's literature.
"They fill a bag for $5 as well because we've got that many children's books," he said.
"And we love to encourage kids to read!"
The store also has a service where people looking for a particular title or author can leave their name and phone number and the book they are looking for, and the team of volunteers will be on the lookout.
To arrange donations, contact Wayne Morris on 0472 522 376.
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Journalist with an interest in telling regional and rural stories, and covering the diverse array of topics that matter to the people of Bendigo.
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