Help needed for Bookarama

INVOLVED: Ariarne Settle (left) and Kayla Wiggins are among Rotary Club of Ashburton members preparing for this year’s Bookarama.
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Ashburton’s iconic Bookarama continues, despite the group which organises the annual second-hand book sale struggling to find new members.

Ashburton Rotary Club members have this month begun sorting thousands of books already collected into their various categories for this year’s event, to be held September 23 to 28.

Despite a mostly ageing and dwindling membership, they have recently attracted younger members and are hoping to get even more as they seek to boost their ranks.

President David Mead is calling for any Bookarama fans to consider joining Rotary.

He believes many younger people like doing volunteer work, and what better event to be involved in than one that gives all its money to charitable projects and causes, most within Mid Canterbury.

‘‘We want to get new members and use Bookarama as the drawcard,’’ Mead said.

Bookarama had raised more than $1 million since the year it was first held, 1980.

Mead said the club has recently created a special type of membership called an associate membership, for those who wanted to join but did not want the commitment of the weekly Rotary meetings.

SERVING THE COMMUNITY: Above – It was all hands on deck as Rotary Club members sorted books for Bookarama last year. PHOTO FILE

The club today has about 40 members, aged from their 20s to their 80s. It compares to about 70 in 2011, and about 60 in 2018.

“We are a dying breed,” Mead said.

Founded in 1937, Ashburton Rotary Club is part of the international organisation which today has about 1.4 million belonging worldwide. In 1987 women were admitted to Rotary, and are today the fastest growing group of the organisation.

Ashburton Rotary’s youngest member is Ariarne Settle.

The 27-year-old said what she liked about the club was the social aspect of the weekly meeting, generally held with a dinner and guest speaker on Tuesday evening. She also enjoyed being involved in community work.

She joined last year at the suggestion of her friend and fellow member Kayla Wiggins.

‘‘She finally convinced me to come along as there was an interesting speaker she knew I would be interested in. I also wanted to get involved with a community club somehow, but was not sure how to start,’’ she said.

She had loved helping out at her first Bookarama last year, soaking in the vibe of the event as she saw ‘‘really young kids through to retired people browsing and chatting about the books’’.

Wiggins, a 32-year-old mum of two, said belonging to Rotary was rewarding.

‘‘The position I am in at the moment in my life, I can’t afford to make donations to the community, but I can give my time.’’

Hay-King, on the rings at the Mid Canterbury Boxing Academy’s obstacle course, built by the Ashburton Rotary Club. PHOTO FILE

Bookarama funds have benefitted a wide range of Mid Canterbury projects over the years.

They have included assisting with the building of the Ashburton Cancer Society rooms in Mona Square and the EA Networks Centre, installation of outdoor exercise equipment at Mid Canterbury Boxing Academy, improvement of the Ashburton Hakatere River Trail, rebuild of the Sharplin Falls walkway and improvement of the Staveley ice-skating rink.

The club provides books to Mid Canterbury new entrants and babies, sends secondary school students on leadership and Outward Bound courses, sponsors school Dux awards, and holds an annual party for blind association members.

It also contributes to a wide range of international causes such as the Fred Hollows Foundation and eradicating polio.

– To find out more about joining, contact David Mead, 0274716661, or John Driscoll, 0275383816.