In a quaint, brick rambler located near MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, volunteers have spent countless hours sorting more than 10,000 donated books.
Their efforts have resulted in boxes of books stacked floor to ceiling in bedrooms, the living room, a closet, the foyer and the garage — all to be sold at the Women’s Board 92nd annual Picnic and Bazaar in Olney on Tuesday.
Shirley Letcher is in charge of the book sorting operation. Like the event itself, Women’s Board members and volunteers have the process down to a science.
Letcher has been involved with the book sorting for the past six years. This year, she has worked five to 10 hours per week since March, and is confident all will be sorted as the final week approaches.
“I find it really interesting, in part because I like to see what kinds of books are out there, and also to see the very specialized genres that exist,” she said. “As a reader and a writer, I’ve always been around books, so I’ll be here until we are done.”
Event co-chairs Kathy Lieberman and Christine Hill-Wilson say the book sale is just one part of what makes the Picnic and Bazaar Olney’s most cherished summertime tradition. Throughout the years, the Women’s Board has tweaked the event, but the tradition is what keeps people coming back year after year. That, and the secret fried chicken recipe.
The event began as a sit-down supper, staged the last Tuesday of July at Sherwood High School. When Olney's population grew rapidly during the 1970s, the event took on the current outdoor format.
Women’s Board President Dee Hawkins said the big news this year is that for the first time, credit card payments will be accepted in the food line.
“Plans are to have a pilot program where we will accept credit cards in food service, and possibly one other booth,” she said. “We are really hoping it works out.”
Also new this year is a scavenger hunt and a dunk tank, where picnic-goers will have the opportunity to soak community leaders. Scavenger hunt forms will be available at the MedStar Montgomery Medical Center booth, and answers can be found throughout the event. Completed forms can be entered into a drawing for a DBX Vanquish adult mountain bike and helmet.
Following tradition, the event will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem. Entertainment will continue throughout the day.
In addition to the famous chicken, traditional picnic fare will be offered, including corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw, barbeque, hot dogs, ice cream and cotton candy.
Other than the books, items available for sale include antiques, collectibles, jewelry, flowers, plants, produce, and homemade baked goods.
Kiddieland returns, with games, prizes, a moon bounce and pony rides.
Raffle tickets will be available for purchase throughout the day. Prizes include a three-day cruise with airfare, donated by Community Radiology Associates; an iPad 3, donated by IKO Realty; a wine cooler and wine, donated by Graeve’s Auto and Appliance; a grill and gift certificates to many local businesses.
The Women’s Board of Montgomery General Hospital has been in operation since 1919. It is a volunteer service organization made up of more than 200 members that raises funds to support the hospital and a scholarship fund through operating the gift shop, the thrift shop and events including the annual Picnic and Bazaar and Gifts of Light program.
The Women’s Board currently is fulfilling a pledge of $1.75 million used to purchase a daVinci Surgical System for minimally invasive surgical procedures, and has raised $400,000 to date. Previous donations include a $1 million contribution towards the Capital Campaign, and a $1 million pledge for the hospital’s Cardiovascular Unit.