When the McLean Area Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) selected an idea for their annual fundraiser, they wanted to choose something with value to the community. They voted and selected a used book sale, which has persisted now for 49 years.
“It’s a meaningful service to the community, and it also gives us money. That was the idea behind it,” said Carol Langelier, a founding member of the local chapter.
Since then, the AAUW’s Used Book Sale has expanded greatly and now includes 40,000 books, CDs, DVDs and records. This year’s sale at Spring Hill RECenter raised $41,204.92, which will be used to fund scholarships, grants and fellowships for women.
Throughout the year, the AAUW collects donations from the community, and sorts through them in a space donated by the SunTrust Bank in Vienna. For those in the local AAUW chapter, the book sale is a valuable opportunity to get to know the other members.
“It’s also a good bonding experience for our membership,” said branch co-president and book sale co-chair Betsy Schroeder. “We get to know each other through working at the book sale and all the sorting hours that take place at the bank.”
AAUW member Nancy Richardson said she likes to work the book sale because of her love of reading.
“I really enjoy books,” Richardson said. “I know that sounds so simplistic, but it’s true. I also enjoy the people very much, and it’s a very worthwhile cause.”
Half of the money that the local chapter raises goes to the national AAUW to fund many things, including scholarships, grants and fellowships. The other half is awarded locally through scholarships that are given to adult women returning to school at certain universities in the area, junior girls proficient in math and science at local high schools, and, as chosen by local AAUW members, the girl with the best project at the Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
While Schroeder enjoys the event, she thinks the best part of the Used Book Sale doesn’t happen until after it’s over.
“The best part is when you meet the award recipients of the scholarships,” Schroeder said. “At our September branch meeting, when we invite them to come if they can, we often meet their families, and they talk about the impact that the scholarship money made for them. That makes it all worth it. It’s just really rewarding.”