Rev. Charles Hoffacker
Founded in 1977, October Books in Southampton, England calls itself “more than a bookshop.” It sells political and current affairs books, fiction, children’s titles, food, and fair-trade products.
Several years back, the store was struggling to pay increasing rents, so launched a campaign to raise $400,000 to buy an old bank building a short distance down the street in order to have a space of its own. The money came in, some of it from people who had been shopping at October Books for forty years, and the building was purchased.
The store then faced a new challenge: How could its entire stock of books be moved to the new location without spending a lot of money or closing down for long?
October Books put out a call for help. People responded. On a Sunday afternoon in October, over two hundred people formed a line from the old location to the new and passed books from hand to hand, more than two thousand titles. The transfer took one hour.
Those who participated ranged in age from children to what the English call pensioners. Cafes brought cups of tea to the volunteers. Passersby asked what was happening, then took places in the line.
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, building it through cooperation with others.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington