Planning & Progress

By Alia Hammerstone

A typical A to Z meeting begins with a plethora of hugs and a few minutes of catching up in the Keenan’s kitchen. This particular Wednesday is no different, despite the chill and damp in the air outside, we are warmed with the greetings and small talk this monthly meeting affords us.

We then gather around the living room and watch Chimamanda Ngozi’s Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”. It is a thought-provoking story of the assumptions and stereotypes people give credence to; and how a single story (about people, places, etc.) often leads to misunderstandings.

After a brief discussion on the impact of the Ted Talk, and how it relates to our work, we move to the dining room and gather around some snacks and agendas. At this time, we talk a few moments to go around and celebrate one good thing to share – from weddings and travels to graduations and new professional developments. Our conversations are organic, driven by both the agenda and our own collaboration.

This month’s focus was on finalizing a new location to host our annual February fundraising event, summer plans and continuing to grow with our outreach. Mary worked hard on connecting with local event spaces, and A to Z is excited to announce our annual FUNdraiser event will be at Smith’s Central Garage in McHenry! We are thrilled at the opportunity to grow and host our event in such a unique space.

Another area A to Z Literacy is looking to expand is with more local outreach for organizations who help marginalized teens struggling with mental health. Our goal is to increase outreach with young adults and continue to promote literacy within the community.

Mal, Betty, and Alia will be traveling to Zambia this July and shared their tentative plans for the workshop they will help facilitate at School of Hope. Part of what makes A to Z so successful is the continuous brainstorming and feedback of the members; everyone comes bearing a wealth of knowledge and experiences that help to guide our events and efforts.

The meeting tends to wrap up much the same as it started, with embraces around and well-wishes for the weeks ahead until our next meeting. We leave with a purpose and set of ideas to investigate- be it for local/global outreach, book drives, donations, etc. Our organization is thrilled to be continuing work this summer, both locally- with our book drive at D47’s Glacier Ridge, and abroad- with our continuing work in Zambia.

A to Z’s East Coast Connection

By Betty Trummel

Since I moved from Crystal Lake to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I’ve been thinking about ways to get involved with my “new” community.  What was I passionate about supporting back home in Illinois?  What can I do to better my community no matter where I live?  Of course, my involvement and connection with A to Z Literacy Movement has been extremely important to me since our organization began.  I felt there was no reason not to bring this important work with me when I moved to the East Coast.  In the brief time, I’ve lived on Cape Cod, I have been excited about creating new possibilities for literacy!

During this holiday season, a wonderful opportunity developed for A to Z Literacy to partner with my local school in Harwich, Massachusetts and the Family Pantry of Cape Cod on a successful book drive!

Over 1,200 books were donated by Harwich Elementary School! Over 300 NEW books went into holiday toy/gift bags given out on December 17th at the Family Pantry.

900+ books went right into the “boutique” at the Family Pantry, where folks can choose books when they come to get food and clothing.

bags and books

About 35 nonfiction books will be taken with me when I travel to Zambia next July…to be used in instruction and donated to the library at Shine Zambia Reading Academy.

books

I’m feeling great about the generosity of so many…thank you Harwich Elementary School for your fabulous effort with the book drive!  Thank you to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod for welcoming me and being open to creating this partnership.  Our nonprofit strives to get books into the hands of vulnerable children, whether it is through local or international projects.  Thank you A to Z Literacy, for having such a profound impact on my life both personally and as an educator.

No matter where we all live, it’s easy to find ways to support others, during the holiday season and all year long.  Happy Holidays, wherever you are!

Another Summer School Book Fair

A to Z Literacy Movement had the privilege to host another local book fair this morning at Coventry Elementary School in Crystal Lake. Over one hundred students in grades first through fifth came to check out the selection of free books and then choose a few for their home libraries.

As we strive to meet our 2016 goals, A to Z will continue to provide books for children in McHenry County and other parts of Illinois in hopes in making a difference locally by promoting the love of reading and increasing literacy levels.

Looking Back at 2015

annual report 2015

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” – Kofi Annan

With the holidays over and the January deep freeze settling in, A to Z is proud to look back at 2015 and celebrate many accomplishments. As you view our annual report above, you’ll notice we shipped 57 boxes of children’s books to four different countries in 2015 while donating 27 boxes to local groups in here McHenry county. That’s about 6,000 books in all!  88% of contributions to our nonprofit went to program expenses which included funding for four Zambian student scholarships, six months of school lunch, professional development for over 150 Zambian teachers, and a yearly salary for one teacher. A to Z is grateful to you for continuing to believe in our mission and we are humbled with your generosity. We believe books provide the “what can be…” in life for so many children in impoverished communities, helping them to see the world through different lenses. Without you, we would not be able to promote the love of reading and increase literacy levels around the world. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you.

Just How Many Boxes?

As 2015 wraps up, A to Z Literacy Movement wanted to share a few numbers and a bit of information about the boxes of children’s books we shipped and gave away this year.
Globally: 57 boxes of books made their way to Zambia, Ghana, Swaziland, and the Dominican Republic.
Locally: 27 boxes of books were shared with children in McHenry County.
Without your generous and continued support, we could not have donated the 84 boxes of children’s books to schools, churches, and other nonprofits who are working to increase the love of reading in children. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Summer Clean Out + Garage Sale Season = Savers Drop Off

   

Attention A to Z Literacy supporters- we want your junk! Don’t forget the Savers store in Crystal Lake has designated us as their pilot non-profit for their “Choose Your Cause” promotion. What this means is that anytime you bring a donation to Savers thrift store and mention A to Z Literacy Movement, they weigh the poundage you  donate and pay us per pound! Bring your garage sale leftovers, your outgrown summer gear, your college bound teen’s odds and ends.  This is an ongoing promotion- keep us in mind whenever you have goods to pass along. Sorry, furniture, tires and liquids cannot be counted toward our fundraising promo.

Thanks so much for your help and for spreading the word.

Calling All Clutter!

We are excited to announce our second Spring clutter drive!  Last year’s Savers drive was a success (2.5 TONS of our used items went to Savers!), and we hope that with your help, that this year we’ll donate even more.

4rs_xerox