Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scrabble Soiree Raises about $15,000; Funds Help Literacy Group Learn to Read

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scrabble Soiree Raises about $15,000; Funds Help Literacy Group Learn to Read

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

The rally cry for the team from Coker, Myers, Schickel, Sorenson and Green Thursday night could have been "Let's get quizzical!"

That's because that was just one of the points-winning words the winners of Learn To Read's eighth annual Letters For Literacy Scrabble Soiree used, literally bugging out with others like zyzzyvas (a tropical plant-eating insect) to rack up 2,328 Scrabble points.

The Jacksonville law firm's team came to the event at St. John's Cathedral downtown primed to beat the nine other teams in the nonprofit agency's fundraiser, deciding that practice really does make perfect.

"We practiced at lunchtime for two hours," said Tracy Thompson. "We practiced on Tuesday as well to keep the words fresh."

"We went ahead and figured out what the words were, found how many points they would be," added Carol Cenci. "We tried to strategically place our words on top of the [spaces for] triple and double score."

Attorney Moses Meide's team had the law and God on his side thanks to team member (and cathedral associate dean) Anne Bridger and her attorney husband Dean. But they only racked up 767 points with words like exodus, gawk, whomever and noggin.

"I've never won, but it's a lot of fun," said Meide, also president of the Learn to Read board. "We don't practice. There are some teams who come here and practice before they come. They take it really serious. We come to have fun."

Learn To Read is the oldest nonprofit literacy organization in Jacksonville, training volunteers to improve the reading and writing skills and overall literacy of adults. To raise money for the operation of their San Marco office, the agency holds a number of fundraisers from the Scrabble Soiree to Kiss the Pig for Literacy and the upcoming Alphabet Affair Barnyard Bash on June 16 at The Jacksonville Landing.

Horace Pender, who learned to read thanks to the agency and is now a board member, thanked the teams that competed Thursday night.

"The proceeds that we raise will help," he said. "This will help them [nonreaders] be better on the job, have confidence and move up. I appreciate it."

This year, 10 teams of six to eight members each paid $500 to play in the Scrabble Soiree, assembling under the vaulted wooden ceiling of the historic cathedral's hall at 256 E. …

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