The monthly book fair funds the Baldwin Hills chapter’s Junior Gents and college scholarship programs.
By Jason Lewis
The Baldwin Hills chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., will host a used book fair this Sunday, January 14, in front of Ralph’s grocery store at the Ladera Center.
The members of Mu Sigma Lambda Chapter will have a table set up in front of the grocery store between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
"We have everything for sale,” Lawrence Ross said. “All adult books are $5, while the children's books are $2 each. We sell everything from Bibles to cookbooks. You want something on African American history, and needlepoint? We've probably got it. And since we rely on donations, the books we have in stock are always changing. And that's part of the fun."
Ross said the chapter uses this event as a way to engage their neighbors.
"One of the ways we're able to reach the community, is by being in the community,” he said. “. . . what we as Alphas want to do is let the community know that we're here, and we're working for them. And that's what our used book fair does. It's a monthly reminder that Black men are raising funds to help send kids in our community to college, while also mentoring boys through our Junior Gents program, where we work with boys from sixth to 12th grade."
The funds raised from the event allows the chapter to award $3,000 in college scholarships, and it also allows their free Junior Gents mentoring program to flourish. The brothers of the chapter meet with the boys of the mentoring program for workshops that can range from applying to college, to creating a job resume, to the proper attire to wear on a job interview. Guest speakers are brought in to talk about various college majors and employment opportunities.
“Every book sale is more than helping people enjoy a book ... it helps us create better Black boys,” Ross said.
At past book fairs, the most popular books have been cookbooks, religious books, and novels.
“One woman did a dance when she found a cookbook from 1939,” Ross said. “Another kissed us when she was able to buy a bunch of children's books for her daughter, who is a reluctant reader. We really never know what's going to make an impact with our buyers. But they're all appreciative. So appreciative that we often get people who come over and just hand us $20 dollars as a donation, without even buying a book. They see the positivity in what we're doing."
"The interaction has been great,” Ross said. “So great that it puzzled me, and I had to ask my wife April about why everyone was so overjoyed to see us selling books. She told me that it was 'because it always makes people happy to see Black men in the community doing something positive.' And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about."
For more information about the chapter, visit their website at http://baldwinhillsalphas.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates about the book fair and mentoring program. The Ladera Center Ralph’s is located at 5245 W. Centinela Ave.