Coastside Lutheran Church collected 15 tons of books for its annual book sale last year, and it seems the church is on pace to accumulate a similar quantity for this year’s Labor Day sale.
A storage unit on the church’s parking lot is crammed with book-filled produce boxes organized according to categories that include “hobby, fiction, software guides and history of the computer tech industry.” Outside the unit are bins that fill up every day with more book donations. There is another storage unit off-site with even more books.
“We came up with a little mission statement,” Associate Pastor Sue Holland said. “To provide our Half Moon Bay community with a way to make books accessible to everyone ... and it also recycles them and keeps them out of the landfill.”
The sale is led by two long-time Coastside Lutheran members, husband and wife team Henry Lowman and Karen Butcher with help from other church volunteers and through a partnership with Iglesia Del Mar.
“We’ve been members here for about 20 years,” Lowman said. “Our three kids grew up here in local schools. We’ve always been very into books of all kinds, so it’s kind of a natural fit for us.”
Book donations arrive almost every day, and Lowman said he sees unique finds frequently, such as a collectible book on bottles from the South Carolina Dispensary during the Prohibition.
“They are totally dedicated from the moment we start taking books until after the book sale is over,” Holland. “(They) keep emptying the bins and storing the books and sorting the books, and it’s just an amazing amount of work.”
Coastside Lutheran and Iglesia Del Mar collected about $7,000 to $8,000 last year. The money is used to fund ministries the church provides, such as the twice-a-week community breakfast and other community organizations including Sheriff’s Activities League, Friends of the Library, and Coastside Hope.
Not all the books are sold, however. Lowman estimates 30 to 40 percent of the books donated remain after the sale. Coastside Lutheran brings those books to Cindi Whittemore at Ink Spell who “finds homes for them,” Holland said.
Whittemore has brought books to senior centers, daycares, school libraries, prisons, Little Libraries, the Half Moon Bay Library, soldiers, and even to other countries.
They also hope the 2019 book sale will provide for an idea Butcher had last year — to give out scholarships to local high school students. Holland presented the awards with Senior Pastor Dawn Teuthorn to two students at Half Moon Bay High School and one at Pilarcitos High School.