The Independence Chapter of the American Association of University Women is made up of volunteers who have made it their duty to empower other women. Each year the Independence AAUW volunteers hold a used book fair to raise money for scholarships to enable female students to pursue a higher education.

These women gathered inside Independence Center, just outside Macy’s, at a chilly 8 a.m. on Thursday, to kick off their three-day book sale.

Independence Chapter President Sue Shineman estimated this year marks the 45th used book fair sponsored by the group. She said that in recent years sales have dipped, due to the rising popularity of digital books. But as she gestured to the patrons browsing through the rows of donated material, she explained residents still come out to the sale to not only acquire some reading material, but to support the cause of the AAUW.

Shineman said the women who volunteer are extremely dedicated, and give their time to the group because of their belief that they are more than the sum of their parts.

“Working together, we can accomplish so much more. We can make a big impact,” said Shineman. Each of the women volunteers because they are passionate about bridging the inequality they see women facing every day.

“They know where the funds are going,” said Shineman.

The money raised by the book fair supports scholarships granted to one female student at each of three high schools.

In addition to raising money for the scholarships, the Independence AAUW is currently focused on getting rid of the gender pay gap, according to Shineman.

“In Missouri, the pay gap is 78 cents on the dollar,” she said, explaining that for every dollar a man makes, a women is expected to make only 78 cents.

To combat this, Shineman said the group is using what she called the Work Smart tool, an online program that trains women to negotiate in the workplace, leading to promotions and raises. She said the goal is to have 1000 women trained by August, and to have that number reach the millions in five years.

Annual sale patron Dennis Myer was there early on their opening day.

“It’s a great sale. I’ve come every year for many years,” he said.

IF YOU GO

The book sale continues 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and Saturday in front of Macy’s at Independence Center.