Jakarta. Last week's "Drive Books, Not Cars" charity book sale drew a steady stream of Jakarta book lovers to POST Pasar Santa, raising nearly Rp 9 million ($618) for a non-profit foundation dedicated to educating underprivileged children in eastern Indonesia through literacy.
On the weekend of Sept. 26-27, the mixed-use, creative space POST ̶ situated on the second floor of Pasar Santa in South Jakarta ̶ opened its doors to the capital's bibliophiles by hosting the annual Drive Books, Not Cars sale of pre-loved books.
Visitors were treated to some 3,000 titles in both English and Indonesian, each up for grabs for between Rp 15,000 and Rp 50,000. Those intent on doing some serious shopping were given the chance to fill up a totebag with as many books as possible for only Rp 100,000.
By the end of its second and final day, the event sold nearly 850 books, earning Rp 8.92 million for Taman Bacaan Pelangi, a non-profit dedicated to building children's libraries in remote parts of eastern Indonesia and promoting the love of reading amongst children.
The organization has since its inception in 2009 established 29 libraries in 14 Indonesian islands, with the newest one located in the city of Mulia, Papua province.
A majority of the Indonesian children's books lining their shelves comes from Drive Books, Not Cars drop boxes placed in select malls and cafes across Jakarta and Bali.
Generous donators living in the capital can drop off their book donations at Anomali Cafe, Plaza Indonesia and EX Plaza, while Bali residents can head to any Surfer Girl shop to make their contributions.
Children's books are sent directly to Taman Bacaan Pelangi's libraries, while novels are sold at the Drive Books, Not Cars annual book sale.
The event, supported by BeritaSatu Media's volunteering program Count Me In, is now in its fifth year, thanks largely to founders Zack Petersen, Ima Abdurahim and Scott Hannah, as well as a group of dedicated volunteers.
“One of the cool things about Drive Books, Not Cars is that it's always been volunteer driven,” Zack said. “So all the people that you see here... All the posters that were made [come from] people who donate their time.”
Olgha Ngantung, 17, an avid reader and one of the sale's volunteers, said the benefits of her participation were threefold.
“I often volunteer [for charity events], but this is the first time I've helped out at a charity book sale. I have definitely learned a lot about volunteering from my duties in greeting customers and handling payments as a cashier,” she said.
“I've also met so many people from the volunteering world, like Zack, […] who have taught me a lot about various charitable organizations. Also, I get a special volunteer discount, so I've been able to expand my book collection!”
But after five years of donating, selling and distributing more than 27,000 books and raising some Rp 270 million, the beloved book drive may have sold its final batch of novels last Sunday.
“People always worry about the sustainability of ideas, [but] we think that ideas morph and change into different things,” Zack began to explain.
“But we've been doing this for five years and so we're actually trying to phase Drive Books, Not Cars out. We have a few different initiatives [in the works]: there's one for making birth certificates for street kids [and] there's a [scholarship program for girls] in Komodo island.
“The idea is [to] get as many people involved [in any charity campaign], and have the most positive impact that you can,” he added.
For more information on Taman Bacaan Pelangi, visit the foundation's website at Tamanbacaanpelangi.com.