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How ‘Empire’ Actor’s Mandated Community Service Could Inspire Widespread Bookstore Volunteering

Actor Jussie Smollett / Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Jussie Smollett, the star of “Empire” and – for the ’90s kids – also “Mighty Ducks,” had dominated the news with his claim of being the victim of a racially motivated attack in Chicago in January. But the twists and turns of this crime fit for a legal thriller novel has led to Smollett’s 16 felony counts related to allegedly fabricating the attack being dropped Tuesday. With the charges dropped, his 16 hours of community service has been scrutinized and looks like some of it occurred at a bookstore.

Smollett volunteered at the bookstore of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a longtime civil rights organization formed in 1996 by Rev. Jesse Jackson. While snapping photos with adoring fans, Smollett managed the register with helping customers find and purchase products and offered advice to the organization on how to market its products better to younger customers, according to the letter from Rainbow PUSH.

For lit women, volunteering at a bookstore seems like a fabulous opportunity, and of course, even better when it’s done on her own rather than for serving time for a crime. Also to be a part of the sales and marketing machine for a few hours seems wonderful, especially when she could promote the books she loves to customers unaware of those books’ magic. Smollett’s community service will be scrutinized further, but it did put a spotlight on volunteering at small bookstores, especially ones associated with nonprofits, religious groups, and small private groups, that may need extra unpaid help.

If you took the bookstore volunteerism aspect out of this news story and are now searching for opportunities, check out Volunteer Match, which has plenty of local bookstores looking for help (at least under the Los Angeles search) with virtual opportunities available as well.

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