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Event promises a marathon of words
Read-A-Thon raises money and awareness of literacy
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What: 24 hours of sponsored reading benefits the Gainesville/Hall County Alliance for Literacy

When: 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Hall Book Exchange, 1854 Thompson Bridge Road

Contact: To sign up for the Read-A-Thon, call 770-532-6693; for more information on volunteering as a reading tutor, call 770-531-4337

On your mark, get set, read!

On Friday afternoon, Hall Book Exchange will be the site of the second annual Read-A-Thon, where sponsored readers take turns in a 24-hour reading marathon.

Proceeds benefit the Gainesville/Hall County Alliance for Literacy, a United Way of Hall County partnership agency that helps 2,000 adults each year learn to read. The alliance also helped 215 adults earn their General Education Development diploma last year, said executive director Dorothy Shinafelt.

Shinafelt said the goal is to have readers or teams of readers obtain sponsors who donate $10 to the alliance for every hour of reading. She said the Gainesville/Hall County Alliance for Literacy works closely with Lanier Technical College, but receives no funds from federal or state governments.

“We’ve got to fundraise or depend on generosity to support our programs,” Shinafelt said. “... We provide the extras that (Lanier Tech) is not able to afford like computer software, salaries for teachers, books, curriculum and we also coordinate the volunteers who work with students.”

Myra Meade, owner of Hall Book Exchange, said she wanted to work with the literacy alliance again this year because local readers are excited about sharing the joy of reading.

“It’s just a great sense of camaraderie because we’re all readers and that’s what we’re into,” she said. “... We want to help those who are illiterate so they can join us.”

Adult literacy is a big problem in Hall County, where nearly one in three adults is unable to read proficiently, according to the 2000 Census.

The Read-A-Thon coincides with Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, and also with USA WEEKEND Magazine’s Make A Difference Day on Saturday, Shinafelt said.

The Make A Difference Day encourages Americans to spend Saturday volunteering or helping out in their communities. The foundation chose one agency from each state to compete for 10 $10,000 checks, and the Gainesville/Hall County Alliance for Literacy is the agency representing Georgia in the challenge. The top 10 fundraising events earn the big checks, Shinafelt said.

Meade said several local authors who have penned children’s books, novels or business works will be at the event to read aloud, sign books or make presentations stemming from their publications. North Hall High School student Rachel Glazer will make a special theatrical presentation of “Martina the Beautiful Cockroach” written by children’s author Carmen Deedy.

Lakeview Academy students also are picking up books this week to celebrate Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. Hundreds of Lakeview students will sprawl out in the gym and dedicate time to reading their favorite books.

Meade said she hopes to give everyone the opportunity to open up a good book and embark on an amazing adventure.

“It’s an escape. It’s fun,” she said. “You can go anywhere you want to go in a book.”