Ask Ron Hass what his favorite book is and he can't just name one, he starts naming a long list.
"I just believe in reading," he said.
The Santa Rosa man credits his aunt with sparking the love of a well-crafted tale that has given him a lifetime of pleasure. It was natural that once he retired, he sought ways to share that feeling.
Hass, 67, volunteers with the Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County, picking up donations from around the county and spending several hours a month sorting and cataloging them at the nonprofit's Occidental headquarters.
The bookmobile, founded in 2009 by Glen Weaver as a weekend public service project with his family, has grown into a bustling book giveaway program that has distributed more than 70,000 free books to anyone who wants one — or three, the per-person limit.
Many customers are children, others senior citizens. Most are lower-income, but anyone is welcome to use the service, Weaver said.
"When you see them come off the Bookmobile with smiles, it's just great," Hass said of young readers.
Weaver, the only employee of the growing program, called Hass' dedication invaluable.
Hass picks up donations several times a month from throughout the county. He arrives in Occidental and sorts them into racks of bankers' boxes organized by category inside a large storage container.
The custom-designed, waterproof container has a capacity of about 12,000 books.