What's the word?

Scrabble fundraiser to help Literacy Delaware adult education

Date Published: 
Sept. 29, 2017

What wonderful words can you weave?

People who love letters can team up in a Scrabble tournament to raise money for a nonprofit helping teach adults to read.

Scrabble at the Beach is a happy-hour fundraiser for Literacy Delaware, which is based locally in Frankford, but operates statewide.

“We thought it would be the perfect off-season event. There are so many trivia games in the area, and every one of us plays Words with Friends online,” said organizer Carole Bailey, board member and event organizer.

The tournament is set for Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 4 to7 p.m. at The Peninsula community clubhouse, between Long Neck and Oak Orchard.

Teams of four will be given a Scrabble board and a full pile of letters. Together, they will come up with the best words they can and build a board to produce the largest number of points. Their completed board is judged against everyone else’s. There are three rounds — sometimes with special themes.

Groups can also lift their scores into the thousands range by purchasing additional tiles (an extra “Q” can make a big impact on the triple word score).

Local businesses or housing communities can also send teams to defend their honor in this battle of the brains.

Each ticket includes one free drink, access to a cash bar and enough hors d’oeuvres that “you won’t have to go home and cook dinner.” Between each game, people socialize, get more food, shop the gift basket raffles and buy into the 50/50.

Sponsorships are still welcome at different levels, from cash to prize gift baskets.

Winners will earn the trophy and bragging rights at the first Scrabble at the Beach.

Bailey first attended a Scrabble fundraiser in Wilmington and had a blast. She has also tutored adults in the literacy program through the Frankford Public Library.

“It’s a free program for students, and all the tutors are volunteers. There are only 2.5 paid employees in Delaware,” she said.

Bailey said she is upset by the statistic that in Delaware, 1 in 7 adults reads at or below a fifth-grade reading level, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Volunteers teach basic reading skills for adults who haven’t progressed beyond an elementary-school reading level, plus some English language instruction. Lessons are taught one-on-one.

Since 1983, more than 2,600 adults have studied literacy with Literacy Delaware. In 2015, services expanded to include Sussex County, partnering with the Frankford Public Library.

It can be tough to live with lower literacy skills. People can use other skills and context clues to get things done, but there are gaps that they can close by improving their reading skills, such as reading emails, medicine bottles or notes from their children’s teacher. Eventually, Bailey said, the family’s children may not be strong readers either.

Bailey recalled one learner who was functioning as an adult and member of the local fire company.

“Here’s a guy — he was 41 years old. He was able to pass all the fire department tests without reading, because they’re really mechanical tests you have to do,” Bailey said. “So, I took him on, and after a year, he had his driver’s license.”

Soon, the man’s mother and sister also requested tutoring.

The Peninsula clubhouse is located at 26937 Bay Farm Road, Millsboro, Del.

Scrabble registration is due by Oct. 19. The cost is $200 for a team of four. One person can register the foursome with a fun team name. People can register for the fundraiser online at www.literacydelaware.org.

To become a tutor or pupil, contact Literacy Delaware at (302) 658-5624 or www.literacydelaware.org.