Valleywide : Armenian Fraternity Gives Toys to Shelter

There was a time earlier in this century when the immigrant Armenian community in Fresno could have used a little charity, says Gabe Kaprelian, chairman of L.A. Triple X Fraternity, a nonprofit Armenian group.

Remembering the hardships of its people, the fraternity on Thursday donated more than 100 toys to Haven Hills Battered Women's Shelter and the Domestic Abuse Center of Northridge.

"We all remember when our parents came to this country and were struggling," said Kaprelian, who owns an electrical construction company.

"People are certainly struggling today."

The toys will be used as presents for children having birthdays while staying temporarily at the shelters, officials said, or simply so they can have something to play with when they arrive at a new, strange place.

"Frequently, they leave their homes very quickly," said Haven Hills' Executive director Betty Fisher. "They can't get the things that they need."

The Triple X Fraternity of California was formed in the 1920s by eight Armenian high school and college students in Fresno who were denied membership in traditional fraternities because they were immigrants, Kaprelian said.

The Armenian community started immigrating to the United State from their homeland soon after the turn of the century to escape the Turkish death squads, Kaprelian said.

A number of them moved to Fresno, where it took decades for the immigrants to be accepted as mainstream Americans.

The teenagers named their fraternity Triple X, mimicking the Roman numeral XXX, because they hoped their membership would grow to 30, Kaprelian said.

Today, the organization has 11 chapters and about 900 members throughout California that raise money for orphanages, scholarship funds, battered-women's homes and other nonprofit groups, he said.

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