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Book sale delivers lots of happy customers

May 15, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The distinction between the people arriving at the 22nd annual Friends of Legal Services Book Sale on Sunday and those leaving was that, seemingly, every single one of the departing shoppers had his or her arms encumbered by brown grocery bags brimming with books.

The three-day sale to benefit Franklin County (Pa.) Legal Services and MidPenn Legal Services started Friday with 1,100 boxes of books in 55 categories. There were fewer than 300 boxes remaining within two hours of the sale's closing Sunday, according to Marian Benchoff, organization president.

"We had over 50,000 books. We had cassettes, DVDs, audiotapes - hundreds of them - and even some old eight-tracks," Benchoff said.

A portion of the leftover books were on their way to the Gulf Coast, she said.

"There's a great need for that because some of the schools are not up and running," Benchoff said. Other books were headed to area American Legions for distribution to veterans hospitals, she said.

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The book sale, where prices generally range from 50-cent paperbacks to $3, is one of the major fundraisers for Franklin County Legal Services, an agency of the United Way that provides legal services to people who cannot otherwise afford them, Executive Director Mahesh Rao said.

"It's not easy to navigate the courts on your own," Rao said.

The agency operates with two lawyers, one paralegal and students from Dickinson College, and handles 700 cases a year, he said.

Cindy Tweedy of Chambersburg perused the tables for religious books for her, children's books for the two youngsters she baby-sits and romance books for her mother as Mother's Day presents.

"She actually requested that," Tweedy said.

Nearby, Jim Metz of Chambersburg skimmed the tables for religious and reference books, as well as cookbooks. Metz resells books throughout the year and has found the cookbooks to be good sellers.

Betty Pensinger of Marion, Pa., picked up cookbooks for herself, along with instructional books for crafts.

"I do a lot of crafts," Pensinger said.

"We have a lot of people who home-school their children and are able to get educational books," Benchoff said.

The biggest sellers are history books, especially those focusing on the Civil War, she said. Select books of historical value are put into a special section and sold at higher prices, Benchoff said.

"We don't put out any books that are soiled," she said. "We do not put out any books that we feel people could not put out on their own shelves."

About 15 volunteers meet weekly throughout the year to sort, price and pack books by category in a facility on the grounds of Letterkenny Army Depot, Benchoff said.

June McIntosh of Mercersburg, Pa., returned to the book sale again this year to enhance her book collection, which models the one she remembers from her childhood. McIntosh primarily selected novels from the 1930s and 1940s.

"I just find them most enjoyable to read," she said.

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