Open Books, Open Minds

Illiterate people probably aren’t reading this, but maybe someone should tell them March is Community Literacy Month in Federal Way.

The Federal Way Chamber Education Foundation’s Literacy Breakfast kicks off the month of activities. Brock Huard of the Seattle Seahawks is the emcee for the complimentary breakfast at 7:30 a.m. March 1 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Each year the Education Foundation hosts the breakfast to highlight the need for improved literacy services in the community.

“Literacy benefits the community and ultimately the work force,” said Teri Hickel, spokeswoman for the Education Foundation. “Literacy is the key. The more literate you are, the better chance you have in getting a quality job and quality life.”

The celebration was started three years ago and raised a little more than $6,500 for reading projects the first time around. From those humble beginnings, the number of donations has steadily increased. Last year the celebration raised more than $100,000 thanks to growing support from the community.

Since 1999, the program has funded 121 programs in the Federal Way area.

The breakfast is also a chance to showcase how donated funds help literacy projects throughout the year (See inside for stories about projects funded by the Education Foundation).

Another activity scheduled for the month is the Reading Around the World Literacy Fair from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 16.

The fair kicks off at 11 a.m. with an opening ceremony in The Bon Courtyard. what reading means to her. She will also be signing copies of her latest book.

Young authors in kindergarten through the third grade can pick up an entry form for the KCTS and Reading Rainbow’s eighth annual Young Writers and Illustrators Contest.

Booths will feature games and activities for all ages. Participants can learn how to play Rummy Roots or explore “Drama Made Easy” with author Karena Karull.

The fair features spelling bees, Seussism contests, giant crossword and word-find puzzles and story readings by celebrity guests in theme decorated areas.

The Community Literacy Celebration started out as a partnership between Capital One, Borders and Federal Way Public Schools and is now in its third year as a major event.

Businesses throughout the community participate in the celebration by donating a portion of their daily or monthly sales to the Education Foundation, or volunteering to tutor students in schools and community centers.

“This project was a result of everybody trying to make a sustainable difference around literacy,” said Debbie McGee, community relations director for Capital One. “It raised the awareness level of literacy in the community. Literacy is a necessary, critical skill that helps — whether you are an adult or child — achieve your dreams and realize your potential.”

Following the opening ceremonies, Gudrun Ongman, author of “Sleep Ponies,” will read her book and teach everyone how to draw their own ponies. After 1 p.m., Joni Sensel, author of “Garbage Monster” and “Bears Barge In” will read both books and have crafts projects that reinforce the inspirational messages of her books.

For adult readers and writers, Ann Rule, the “Queen of True Crime Novels,” will visit at 7 p.m. to talk about

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