“We had done a similar promotion last year on July 4th (also benefiting RAICES),” Elizabeth Jordan, CEO of BookPeople said, “so we were happy to participate with this larger group of bookstores raising money for a great cause.”
During the long July Fourth weekend, #BookstoresAgainstBorders raised more than $30,000 for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which helps provide legal aid to immigrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. But the project hasn’t stopped there, fundraising continues, and at press time the total amount raised was almost $80,000.
Organized by A Room of One's Own bookstore of Madison, Wisconsin, #BookstoresAgainstBorders urged bookstores, publishers, and other literary organizations to donate from five to twenty percent of their sales from Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7, to RAICES. Approximately 150 organizations responded.
In Texas, BookPeople in Austin pledged twenty percent of the proceeds from their online sales over the long holiday weekend to RAICES. Elizabeth Jordan, CEO of BookPeople, told Lone Star Lit that they were able to donate $600. “We had done a similar promotion last year on July 4th (also benefiting RAICES),” Jordan said, “so we were happy to participate with this larger group of bookstores raising money for a great cause.”
Check out BookPeople’s blog for a great reading list about the countless immigrant and refugee experiences, Strangers In a Strange Land.
BookWoman, also in Austin, pledged five percent of sales for the cause. In addition, BookWoman has set up a direct donation option here.
Ben Leroy, the executive director of the Independent Publishers Caucus, which provided free books and swag to those who donated to #BookstoresAgainstBorders, reported to Publishers Weekly that IPC received many requests throughout the weekend. "The greatest thing for me was seeing the speed and enthusiasm with which individuals and businesses came together," LeRoy said. "Seeing all of the bookstores and publishers supporting one another was inspiring. Knowing it was in the name of a greater good was incredible. It's invigorating to see a shift from feeling helpless to feeling driven, both in our lives and in the lives of others."
Among others, Next Chapter Booksellers of St. Paul, Minnesota, donated ten percent of its proceeds to RAICES, according to Shelf Awareness. Besides promoting the donations and suggesting direct donations to RAICES, the store wrote: "The next best thing you can do to help is to learn more and educate yourself about the situation and experiences of those affected at the border. Our booksellers are armed with recommendations to help start the learning process."
Subterranean Books of St. Louis, Missouri, committed to donating five percent of its sales to RAICES. It reported that "sales this weekend have been off the charts! Thank you for showing up, St. Louis."
Prairie Lights of Iowa City, Iowa, raised more than $1,500, according to KCRG.
Some stores have also pledged additional support. A Room of One's Own noted on its Facebook page that several bookstores are extending their #BookstoresAgainstBorders fundraiser throughout the week, and a few for the entire month of July. A Room of One's Own is donating fifteen percent of its holiday weekend sales to RAICES. Book Riot is matching donations up to $2,500 of customers of participating bookstores who uploaded receipts of purchases made this past weekend.
RAICES is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees. Founded in 1986 as the Refugee Aid Project by community activists in South Texas, RAICES has grown to be the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. With offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, RAICES is a frontline organization in the debate about immigration and immigrants in the world.
As an organization that combines expertise developed from the daily practice of immigration law with a deep commitment to advocacy, RAICES is unique among immigration organizations. A diverse staff of 130 attorneys, legal assistants, and support staff provide consultations, direct legal services, representation, assistance, and advocacy to communities in Texas and to clients after they leave the state. In 2017, RAICES staff closed 51,000 cases at no cost to the client.