Ask Heather Doss why she volunteers at the Goddard Riverside Book Fair, and she answers without hesitation.
"It’s books!" she says. "I live, breathe, sweat and cry books."
Doss is standing in the main room of the Goddard Riverside Senior Center while all around her, volunteers flit to and fro with armloads of books, organizing them into categories in preparation for the Fair.
Doss has volunteered for nearly a decade; for the last four years she has organized and helped sell the Teen and Young Adult titles. This year she’s taken on an even bigger role: she’s also the liaison between the Book Fair Committee and the publishers who donate books.
"I’m helping to express our needs and wishes and hopes and dreams to the publishers Ð and also our pure gratitude for their donations," she explains.
Doss isn’t kidding about living and breathing books: when she’s not volunteering with books she’s working with them Ð as a sales representative for the teen and children’s category at HarperCollins. She’s an expert at figuring out what a literary audience wants. In the case of the Book Fair, she says, it’s eclectic.
"I think the customer base is very diverse and we want our title mix to reflect that diversity," she says. She adds that cookbooks, history, current events, children’s books and National Book Award winners are always big sellers.
Publishers donate the books to support Goddard Riverside’s anti-homelessness and anti-poverty programs. They’ve done so, with great generosity and to little fanfare, for 30 years now.
"I like seeing how the proceeds help the community," Doss says. "Especially at this time of the year."
She also loves working with her fellow volunteers.
"We’re a little family who see each other once a year," she says with a big smile. "We have many long-term volunteers and it’s great to see them and spend the day doing the things everyone loves."
Especially when those things involve books.