Ron May and Ed Riesinger are standing in a storeroom at Central Christian Church, surrounded by thousands of books.
Some of the books are in plastic milk crates or open cardboard boxes. Many more are packed in boxes that tower high overhead. “It’s like putting water on rice,” May said. “It just keeps getting bigger. It’s getting beyond big and is approaching huge.”
He’s referring to the church’s twice-annual book sale, of which he is the coordinator. The sale began six years ago with about 1,000 books on a few tables. Next week it will feature nearly 40,000 books displayed on 65 to 70 tables.
May, Riesinger and two other volunteers — Janine Foster and Jeff Anderson — work on the book sale almost daily, collecting, cleaning and sorting books. Nearly everybody in the church pitches in during the actual sale and during the days leading up to it. This year, the sale will start with a preview next Tuesday evening and then continue during the day through Saturday.
May said the spring and fall book sales provide “a large source of income for our church budget,” funding its community-service, children’s and ladies outreach programs.
Some of the uptick in donations probably has to do with the phasing out of the Friends of the Library sale at the old Parmly Billings Library, May said. There will be sales at the new Billings Public Library, but without the permanent and virtually unlimited storage space.
Mostly, May said, the donations have grown through word of mouth and an expanding email notification list, which now contains more than 1,000 names. Volunteers pick up about half the donated books from people who call; the rest are dropped off at the church.
“Sunday we come to church and there’s three boxes on the church doorstep,” May said. “It’s like zucchini in the summer.”Book sale details The spring book sale at Central Christian Church, 1221 16th St. W., will begin with a preview from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, then continue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Paperbacks are 50 cents and hardbacks $1. There are also videos, music, games and jigsaw puzzles. If you have books to donate, call the church at 252-1828 or Ron May at 656-5689. Books can be dropped off at the church Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.