Locally owned bookstore launched campaign to raise money for refugees, immigrants

More than 100 independent bookstores participating
Locally owned bookstore launched campaign to raise money for refugees, immigrants

Madison’s own A Room of One’s Own Bookstore launched Bookstores Against Borders to raise money for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, this weekend.

According to a fundraising page set up by owner and manager Gretchen Treu, the bookstore will be donating at least 10% of the store’s profits July 5 to July 7 to RAICES.

Treu says this year, she doesn’t feel patriotic on the Fourth of July with “the news showing us daily footage of horrible conditions at the border affecting refugees and immigrants, some of whom are children who are being explicitly denied access to provisions and donations of basic materials like toothbrushes, soap, beds, shelter, food.”

One of A Room of One’s Own Bookstore’s booksellers, Misian Taylor, approached the owners with the idea of doing a fundraiser campaign.

“We have a community we can call on to help push against the inertia of inaction and send help where it’s most needed,” Treu says. “We have an engaged, active, caring literary community of book lovers who know how to imagine beyond what is, to see not only what could–should–be, but also how we can get there.”

Treu says after doing research, they determined RAICES is one of the most effective organizations giving legal aid to immigrants detained at the U.S. border. The group also has a program that gives representation to unaccompanied children coming over the border.

In addition to donating funds through sales, A Room of One’s Own is asking other independent bookstores across the country to participate in the fundraiser and give percentages of sales to RAICES.

As of July 4, 100 bookstores and presses have joined Bookstores Against Borders. Participants range from Mystery to Me and The Book Deal in Madison to businesses in New York City, San Francisco, New Mexico and across the Midwest. For a full list of participants, click here.

“To think of children very like mine living in the conditions we’re seeing, in the richest country in the world, in the supposed ‘land of the free,’ that is such a deep and growing anger in me,” Treu says. “I can’t keep doing only what I have been doing.”

If you can’t make it to a bookstore and want to donate, A Room of One’s Own is taking donations on a classy.org page. As of Friday morning, all of the bookstores together have raised more than $14,000 to give to RAICES.