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Used bookstore holds 24-hour Read-A-Thon to boost Alliance for Literacy

POSTED: October 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Lanier Career Academy students are donating their time to participate in a Read-A-Thon fundraiser to benefit the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy.

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Roughly 60 teenagers from Lanier Career Academy and Gainesville State College will be spending tonight reading quietly. And these teens aren’t on restriction this weekend. They’re participating in Hall Book Exchange’s first Read-A-Thon fundraiser to benefit the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy.

Beginning at 5 p.m. today, more than 70 community members will take turns reading for a 24-hour stretch. Each reader has agreed to donate at least $10 for every hour they read during the Read-A-Thon. Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras will get the event started today, and several local authors will follow.

Participating local authors include Mack Abbott, author of "First and Last Shots Fired in World War II," Malcolm R. Campbell, author of "The Sun Singer," and Jenna Maclaine, author of the vampire romance novel "Wages of Sin."

Myra Meade, owner of Hall Book Exchange, said the authors will read aloud from their works or sign books at the event. She said authors also will donate a portion of the proceeds from their book sales to the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy, a local organization that combats illiteracy at all ages.

According to statistics from the 2000 U.S. Census, 29.9 percent of adults older than 25 in Hall County have less than a high school education level.

Meade said the Read-A-Thon at the Hall Book Exchange is just one of 10 taking place across the country in October. She said a book store in New Hampshire, called RiverRun Bookstore, started the program last year, and asked bookstores across the country to join in a fundraising effort this year. Meade said she selected the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy to benefit from her bookstore’s fundraiser because she thought it was a great way to celebrate the bookstore’s 25th anniversary.

"We’ve been in business here for 25 years now," she said. "It’s just a way we can give back."

Meade said she aims to make the Read-A-Thon an annual event.

She said she hopes the 24-hour fundraiser will lure locals to the bookstore for a sunset read at 5 p.m. today.

"We are inviting people to bring lawn chairs and sit outside on the grass in front of the store. There’s a beautiful sunset on Thompson Bridge Road," she said.

There’s a bedtime story for kids at 7 p.m. and prizes for readers who read the longest amount of time or who raise the most money for the Hall County Alliance for Literacy.

Meade said one reader already has signed up for an eight-hour stretch. One winner will receive a free scuba diving certification class.

While most participants will read during the afternoon or on Saturday, Meade is counting on local high school and college students to carry the Read-A-Thon into the wee hours of the morn.

Debbie Clark, a teacher at Hall County schools’ Lanier Career Academy, said 30 Lanier Career Academy students are slated to participate in the event. She said the Gainesville Jaycees and the Gainesville Kiwanis clubs donated $400 to support students in the Read-A-Thon. Other sponsors include Chick-fil-A and Cotton Eyed Joe’s.

Students at Lanier Career Academy said they plan to read books from J.K. Rowling’s "Harry Potter" series, classics like "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare or "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson.

Lanier Career Academy student Shawnquilla Frazier said she wants to raise funds for the Gainesville-Hall County Alliance for Literacy because as a high school senior, she wants to help people to learn how to read so they can function in society.

"It makes me feel like I’m a part of something," she said. "I didn’t know there were adults that couldn’t read in Hall County."

Chris Smith, a senior at Lanier Career Academy, said he’s reading in the Read-A-Thon because he believes it’s important everyone learns how to read.

"Aside from music, literature is probably the oldest aspect of culture, and culture is lacking in this day in age, in my opinion," he said. "Also, it’s practical, too. You can’t take directions or use the Internet without reading."



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