Photo by Linda Faas

The Library parking lot was alive with activity November 4 as Mesquite Sunrise Rotary sponsored the annual Mesquite Reads Book Sale.  Before dawn, Rotary members, volunteers, and the VVHS Girls Basketball team set up 20-plus tables full of recycled books, preparing for the crowd.

For months, local residents had been donating every imaginable topic of book—animal care, cookbooks, toddler to teen books, glossy oversize travel books, romance novels and classics, Westerns, history and biographies, every book ever written by Patterson, Grisham, Grafton and Cussler.  Some books appeared to be brand new, some bore author’s inscriptions, and others showed loving wear from being re-read time and again.

All early donations were sorted by the Rotary members and stored away.  They worked in a storefront where boxes of books soon overwhelmed the space.  Transporting the books to the library parking lot for the sale became a logistical ballet with a moving truck and lots of helping hands to heft the heavy boxes.  Everybody helped cover fine details of signage, cashier desk, snacks and water.  Borrowed tables and chairs from churches, the art gallery and City, traffic cones, shade canopies and signs miraculously assembled to fill the entire parking lot.

Photo by Maddie Wilcox.

Book lovers came early and continued to browse and buy through the day.  The expected lull during the Veteran’s Parade gave volunteers a chance to catch their breath and open 20 additional boxes of books donated by the Library that morning.  While the books on the tables were sorted by genre, buyers took special delight in churning through the unsorted books in those mysterious “treasure boxes.”    The beautiful November weather held out.  Browsers lingered over the books, slipping one more title into bulging book bags that would bring many hours of reading enjoyment.  Offering bargain prices—a bag of books for $5—the sale was a huge success, taking in almost $1300.

The annual sale benefits Mesquite Reads, a summer program that helps young readers achieve grade-level reading success before they enter third grade.

Mesquite Reads was founded four years ago when Cathy Davis, principal of Virgin Valley Elementary School, approached the Eureka Casino Resort appealing for help in starting a summer reading program.  Eureka COO Andre Carrier, a passionate supporter of education, quickly took up the cause.  He and Gerri Chasko, director of the Eureka Community Initiative program, quickly formulated a drive to engage the community.  Carrier pledged that the Eureka would match dollar for dollar all funds raised for the 6-week summer program.   Davis expected to enroll about 80 students that first year.  It was an educational success.

With the unwavering financial backing and enthusiastic leadership of the Eureka, many community groups and individuals pitch in yearly to support the reading program.  ECI continues to underwrite Mesquite Reads, which has expanded to also include students from J.L. Bowler and Beaver Dam Elementary Schools.

The annual book sale is a hugely popular Mesquite Reads fundraiser, first put together on the front lawn of the Mesquite Library by Nancy Hewitt and others.  The instant success has become an annual institution.  Richard Gutierrez took on the chairmanship in 2016 and 2017, and Mesquite Sunrise Rotary is excitedly committed to continue its sponsorship of the event for 2018.