Helping Hands

As the season of giving and thankfulness drifts in this autumn, our non-profit team members reflect on all of the help we have received from people near and far. Truth be told, “It takes many hands to make light work.” And there have been many offering a helping hand.

We have had book donations and drives from clubs, schools and families wanting to assist in getting reading materials to children. We’ve received monetary donations which help to provide college classes for Jonathan Mwale, our sponsored student, and shipping of books overseas. We have people volunteering to help distribute books, donate books they have finished enjoying, host walkathons and CrAtoZy Sock Days just to name a few opportunities.

There have been so many selfless acts of kindness which have spread out like ripples in a pond. We thank the multitudes and welcome you if you are reading this and wondering where you, your organization, or your family might fit in. Visit our website and click on the “Donate” tab. You will find all kinds of suggestions for easily making a difference in a child’s life.

New Venue for February Fundraiser & Celebration

Smith's outside

By Pat Kelly

What do corrugated metal barn siding, reclaimed bleacher wood and A to Z Literacy Movement have in common? They are all pieces of our upcoming fundraiser “A Decade in the Books”, to be held at a hip new venue in McHenry called Smith’s Central Garage. Formerly a mechanic’s garage, Smith’s has brought a unique gathering place to the vibrant riverfront area north of Route 120. It is a well planned site with lots of industrial metal, concrete and wood. The bar inside is a casual, homey hangout constructed of vintage materials with a focus on Chevrolets. A fantastic space to hold a fundraiser!

So get out on Saturday, February 2nd and join us at Smith’s Central Garage from 5-8 p.m! Come on inside this cozy locale and sample wines and local beers, bid on some gift baskets and support A to Z as they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Afterward, other interesting spots such as Bimbo’s Italian Restaurant and McHenry Brewing Company are just around the block awaiting your visit.

Inside Smith's


Thank You to All Who Attended Trivia Night!

Our 2nd Trivia Night was a blast.  Don’t miss out on the fun next year!

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And the Answer Is…Trivia Night!

Cabin Fever is settling in. It’s February and we all need a night out with friends.
Sure, we love our Midwestern winters, but we also recognize that shut-in feeling of not having seen many folks due to the colder temps.
It’s time to do something. Something fun.
It’s time to laugh, gather together, and support a fantastic non-profit.
It’s time for A to Z Trivia Night.
Head to the website for tickets –


You Are Invited!

A to Z would love to have you and your friends join us for our annual FUNdraiser on Saturday, February 21st at 7:00 pm. Trivia Night will consist of three rounds of trivia with live auctions in between. Tables seat between six and eight people, so get a group together, or feel free to come in pairs and join a friendly table of A to Z supporters.

Last year folks had a blast – the perfect way to cure your cabin fever.
Head to the website to buy your tickets and let us know who will be joining you.

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Savers Results – A Big WIN for A to Z! Thank You!

By Pat Kelly

8,677 pounds. That’s close to 4 ½ tons. That is the weight of the goods that you, as a McHenry County community, donated to our A to Z Literacy/Savers fundraiser.

We figure this is a win, win, win, win situation.


Win #1: Nearest and dearest to our heart are the capital funds A to Z Literacy acquired because of your generosity. The books will continue to be sent from America to Zambia, the Zambian children will eat lunch at school and 2 teachers will be paid by us.

Win #2: We feel good that we gave you incentive to clean out some unwanted belongings from your homes. New, reclaimed space is a good thing!

Win #3: By offering your items to Savers, you kept them out of the landfill; Mother Earth is the beneficiary and she thanks you.

Win #4: At the end of this chain, when Savers sells merchandise, a portion of the proceeds go to the Epilepsy Foundation. The result is people helping people.

A to Z Literacy Movement is gratified by your giving hearts and helping hands. It is due to your charitable nature that we are able to work toward our objectives.

TONS of thanks to you!canstock15562523canstock15562523canstock15562523


Spread the Word

Written and Photographed by Scott Dalzell

NOTE: Scott publishes great writing and photography at his blog, Rantings of a Loon. That’s where this article originally appeared. Please check it out!


Concentration was high during trivia rounds.

After yesterday’s busy day, I’ve been completely out of it today. I actually took a three-hour nap. On a hard floor. That never happens.


Mal welcomes attendees to the event.

But one of the highlights of yesterday was for a friend’s not-for-profit, A to Z Literacy Movement, fundraiser. The event was held to help raise money for books, shipping and other costs needed to help run the much-needed organization. The organization provides books to kids who would normally not be able to afford reading material and serves kids in Zambia and Chicagoland. The group also sends a handful of teachers to Zambia once a year to work with many of these children and their teachers.


Positive energy was everywhere on Saturday night.

Many of us take so many things for granted. I find it somewhat ironic that we have students and parents that take education for granted. At times reading, writing, and all the core subjects seem like a huge imposition to children and their families. Education is often times put behind sports and extra-curricular activities.


Pictures throughout the space reminded us why we were there.

But there are places in the world where these basic skills are never offered. If a child and their family desires an education, they often have to travel for hours so they can learn in schools which are dilapidated and lacking in the basic necessities. But it’s through the spirit of the children, their parents and teachers that education holds a place of utmost importance.  My friend’s organization is really trying their best to feed into that need and desire to learn.


History in the making! The winning team plays the tie-breaker round.

The passion of this organization to spread literacy is unlike anything I’ve encountered. A to Z Literacy Movement wants impoverished children to have the chance to see the beauty in reading and literacy. One of the biggest hindrances in a child’s ability to learn is their socio-economic status. If a child isn’t sure where their next meal is coming from they certainly won’t spend what extra money they might have (if they have any) on a book.


MC Bob addresses the crowd.

A to Z Literacy Movement wants to try to solve that problem to the best of their ability. It is an incredibly large task for a small group of people. But this small organization with a huge heart is leading the charge to bring literacy to children everywhere.



Bacon Basket is Back!


Trivia Night is just around the corner. We really hope you will join us this Saturday, February 8th at 7:00 for a fantastic evening of fun. This is a BIG night for us as we try to raise enough money to cover the costs of our yearly goals. The book sending season begins in March, so depending on how much we raise in February, directly impacts how many books we are able to ship to vulnerable children and needy schools.

As always, we have some excellent raffle prizes and baskets to win during the evening including:  The Bacon basket, Knitting Knerds basket, Fresh Market basket, and a Smoking Hot Sauce basket. Along with great raffle prizes, we will have a silent auction running for two sets of Cubs tickets, Bulls tickets, and Blackhawks tickets.

Without you, A to Z would not be able to accomplish our mission– to improve the literacy lives of impoverished children everywhere. Thank you for believing in us and for helping us to move forward.

We challenge you to flaunt your smarts!

Name one of the museums that comprise Chicago’s Museum Campus.

Wilhelm and Jacob are two brothers who wrote over 200 fairy tales. What is their last name?

What was the original color of Peeps marshmallow candies: blue, pink, yellow, or green?

Got the answers? If so, you are not going to want to miss our annual fundraiser on Saturday, February 8th at 7:00. Gather up your friends and family for a night of fun, food, and laughs while trying to come up with answers during three rounds of trivia. There will be other games and prizes to enjoy as well. A perfect way to brighten the winter months!

Head to the website to buy your tickets, or a table, for all of your *team*.

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Telling Our Story

I dread asking for things.
It makes me uncomfortable.
I get nervous and talk even faster than I normally do. (Webmaster Kristina interjection: That’s really fast!)
But it’s that time of year again – prepping for our annual fundraiser – trying to get things ready with the help of some amazing volunteers. And as I visited local merchants today, asking for small raffle prize donations, I found myself telling our story, the A to Z story, over and over again. I talked about how we have increased our local outreach to kids and families in need here in McHenry county. I shared our work with the Garden Quarter Project and our book fair at The Clinic hosted by Immanuel Lutheran Church.  Of course, promoting the love of reading in Zambia is where we started, it feels really good to tell folks how A to Z is making a difference in their own community.
Please consider joining us on Saturday, February 8th, at 7:00 for our annual fundraiser to help us meet our annual goals. It’s going to be a fantastic time!
You can buy tickets on our website.
Hope to see you there!