As the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s general convention kicked off Wednesday in Charlotte, the convention center, flashing shades of black and gold, became the scene of reunions and new meetings.

More than 6,000 members of the nation’s oldest, black, Greek-letter fraternity are expected in Charlotte this week. And somewhere between the social events and fraternity business, the brothers of Alpha have planned some community service work.

They will attempt to collect at least 1,000 fully stocked book bags for boys in grades K-8 who attend some of Charlotte’s high-poverty schools. The bags will be handed over to school officials from distribution later.

Jonathan Lindsay, president of the local alumni chapter, Beta Nu Lambda, said Charlotte lost out to Chicago to host the group’s biennial convention five years ago. But after seeing the success of other conventions hosted in Charlotte by black Greek organization, selecting Charlotte this time around was a “no brainer.”

After arriving in Charlotte early Wednesday, Phillip Alexander, an engineer from LaGrange, Ga., was standing in the convention center chatting with two of his fraternity bothers. He says he tries to attend as many fraternity events as possible.

“I go to district conference, I go to regional conference, I’m at national conference, and I go to our leadership conferences,” he said. “I keep up with Alpha.”

Alexander said the convention marked his first visit to Charlotte. He said he had arrived about two hours earlier with his wife, who quickly disappeared.

“She’s already out spending money,” he said. “She dropped us off, and she’s gone.”

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.