The sales of gifts and do-nated books added up to a hefty sum recently for the Friends of Columbia County Libraries and the system that the group supports.
On Sept. 12, the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization presented $20,000 to the Columbia County Library board of trustees. That sum came solely from the sales from the Friends' store in the Columbia County Library on North Belair Road.
The donation is not the group's largest donation. Last year, Friends donated $60,000 raised through book sales and other fundraising activities.
Friends member Norma Hickman said a permanent store has helped the cause of raising funds.
"We have so much more traffic and the books are available for sales all the time," Hickman said.
When she and her husband, Friends President Elige Hickman, joined in 1998, she said the two book sales the organization ran brought at best about $800 each.
"It's increased as the population has increased as time has gone by," she said.
About 14 volunteers from Friends staff the store, and in total, volunteers work about 60 hours per week, she said. Today, Friends of Columbia County Libraries boasts about 325 resident and corporate members and sponsors.
The group is constantly looking for new volunteers and donations of books, though Hickman said the latter has been easy to find. Books are being delivered by the box load.
"We just want to be visible so people know this is a good cause people can give to," she said.
Christina Rice, the manager of the county's libraries, said the donated funds will be used to purchase books, programs for adults and children and the creation of a part-time security guard position.
"They are just a great group of volunteers," she said.
The group has also paid for lunches during staff training days and refreshments during the main library's grand opening. Friends has purchased benches that are in the reading nook.
For more information about Friends of Columbia County Libraries, visit the libraries page on Columbia County's Web site, www.columbiacountyga.gov.
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