ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- In West County Thursday, ex-offenders from C.O.N.S. Moving helped raise money for a preschool in St. Louis City's north side. The 63rd Annual Greater St. Louis Book Fair is now open for the weekend. Organizers said the former felons are a critical part of this fundraiser.
Michael 'Brother Boogie' Anders had a new definition for the word 'con', "The acronym, C-O-N-S: Convicts Once, Now Saved."
Anders founded the moving company, staffed only by ex-offenders. The staff was hired to set up half a million items for the massive book fair.
"Because being an ex-offender myself, I know some of the obstacles people have coming out of prison," Anders was convicted of bank robbery. "The main two obstacles are employment and housing."
Event chair Pat McKinnis says these convicts are model co-workers, "What I've noticed is there are times when someone trying to work with something, a volunteer," McKinnis smiled. "The next thing you know, one of the gentlemen comes right over and says, 'Let me get that for you.'"
The fair raises thousands for the children of North City's Nursery Foundation.
"Nobody is better qualified to help those in north St. Louis for those who grew up in St. Louis," Anders pointed out.
For the men of C.O.N.S., moving all those books had nothing to do with making anyone forget about their past. Instead, it was about seizing the opportunity to improve the community's future.
"You can be an ex-offender and still be a role model," Anders explained.
"We have all had our ups and downs, some more severe than others," McKinnins said. "But, people are people. These guys are the cream of the crop."
The fair opened Thursday 4 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. with $10 admission. But, it was free the rest of the weekend. Gates opened from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, the fair is dedicated to shoppers with special needs and all shoppers until 9 p.m. Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., all books are half-price.
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