Hitting Our Stride – Remembering a Decade in the Books

By Betty Trummel

In 2014, A to Z Literacy Movement really hit its stride as an organization.  We had established certain routines and programs, local fundraisers and events, and our work in Zambia was branching out and reaching more teachers and students.

In February we hosted our first annual Trivia Night fundraiser at Park Place in Crystal Lake.  Twelve boxes of books were sent to Ghana and northern Zambia.  The Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers Club made a generous donation that enabled A to Z to send another two shipments of books to Zambia.  

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The National Jr. Honor Society at both Bernotas and Lundahl Middle Schools organized Walk-a-thons and raised over $3,000.  Bernotas also held its first annual dodgeball tournament, raising enough money for another shipment of books to a Zambian school.

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Local outreach projects touched the lives of McHenry County children with Summer Story Boost volunteers reading with children every Tuesday afternoon during the summer at Garden Quarter in McHenry, and five boxes of books being donated to the School District #47 Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee.  These books were given to families attending a meeting at the end of the school year.

Other fundraising initiatives included a CrAtoZy Sock Day at a local school; the Saver’s A to Z Literacy partnership with 8,677 pounds of clothes and household goods donated to Savers and bringing in funds to our organization.  Book donations continued and we capped off the year with the Santa Christmas Book Drive at Good Shepherd Hospital.  

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Our biggest outreach of the year included four educators, Mal, Betty, Pat Kelly, and Becky Roehl traveling to Zambia for two weeks during the summer. 

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They continued work at Shine Zambia Reading Academy and partnered with rural School of Hope/All Kids Can Learn International. 

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One of the key events included being part of a professional development workshop at School of Hope that brought in teachers from rural areas and give them the opportunity to keep learning more about teaching methods and best practices.  2014 was a fantastic year for A to Z Literacy! We continued to be grateful for our supporters!

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As 2015 rolled around, our first big event was the second annual Trivia Night fundraiser at Park Place.  Our early February date for our largest fundraiser of the year was solidly in place and we were building on our successful model of years past.  

Additional fundraising and local projects included our partnership with Saver’s in Crystal Lake for their “Choose Your Cause” program. 

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Woods Creek Elementary 5th graders raised $550 for A to Z during a “Coins for a Cause” fundraiser. Middle schools continued raising money with Walk-a-thons and dodgeball.  

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In November “Brewery for Books” at the Crystal Lake Brewery raised funds for a late fall shipment of books to a Zambian preschool.  Linda Trummel was able to choose A to Z as the recipient of a large donation in honor of an industry award she earned.  And, once again, our Christmas book drive at Good Shepherd Hospital was a hit!

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In June Mal and Dave Keenan traveled to Zambia to partner with School of Hope. 

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Not only did they teach in classrooms at that school, but they provided a professional development workshop at School of Hope for over 150 Zambian educators. 

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Opportunities like this helped us grow as an organization because we furthered our own learning in the process and we brought that back to our local communities.

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Highlights of the year:

  • 57 boxes of books to Zambia, Ghana, Swaziland, and the Dominican Republic
  • 27 boxes of books collected, sorted and donated to local groups in McHenry County
  • 6,000 books total donated!  Wow!

Meanwhile, 88% of the contributions went to:

  • 4 Zambian student scholarships to continue with grades 10-12
  • 6 months of school lunches at Shine Zambia Reading Academy
  • Professional development for over 150 Zambian teachers

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Our mighty little nonprofit continued to make a big difference in the lives of at risk and impoverished children in Zambia and those children who are at risk locally.  There was a LOT to be proud of!

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