More than a dozen teams competed for charity, along with bragging rights, at the St. Gertrude Church Parish Hall Friday evening during the Kleberg County Adult Literacy Council’s ninth annual Scrabble Tournament for Literacy fundraiser.

“Every year it’s grown and it’s always a good time,” KCALC executive director Carla Meyer said.

Started in 2010, the KCALC Scrabble Tournament for Literacy is a fundraiser for the non-profit organization that provides free literacy services to adults 18 and older who have limited reading, writing or English-speaking skills.

This year’s event brought in more than $18,500 for the organization, and funds literacy programs throughout the year.

“We raise probably 40 percent of our budget (with the tournament),” Meyer said.

Participating at this year’s tournament were teams representing Smith Wildlife LLC, Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, McFall Chapel, Kingsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Christus Spohn Hospital Kleberg, HEB, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Coldwell Banker Homestead Properties Inc., the Woman’s Club of Kingsville and literacy supporters for St. Gertrude Parish and the Ricardo, Riviera, Kingsville, Santa Gertrudis and Bishop Consolidated Independent School Districts.

Tables ran between $250 and $1,000, with some team tables sponsored by other entities.

“Almost all of them are returning teams,” Meyer said. “The community has always been very, very supportive.”

During the Scrabble tournament, teams of up to eight people work together to build the highest-scoring boards they can over the course of two games during a set time limit.

“They can only play seven letters at a time, just like a regular Scrabble game, but they can also add four letters (on another turn) and make an 11-letter word,” Meyer said.

Teams could also purchase additional tiles from volunteers, with the point amount matching the cost in dollars.

Meyer said the Scrabble tournament was “chaotic, but a fun chaotic.”

“It’s always wild,” she said. “Most of the time when you go to an event, somebody’s talking and everybody’s having a nice, quiet dinner while they listen. With this, you are involved with the fundraiser. Everybody at the table is involved.”

Live and silent auctions featuring dozens of donated items were held during the tournament as well.

Last year’s tournament brought in $33,000, a record amount that Meyer said was helped by the L’Aiglon Foundation matching tile sales during the event.

“So that basically tripled (the final total) we normally get,” she said. “Last year, that was my entire annual budget.”

For the ninth consecutive year, Coldwell Banker Homestead Properties Inc. finished in first place at the tournament.

In second place was Kleberg Bank, followed by HEB in third place. The top school finish was the Literacy Supporters of Riviera ISD.

Two additional awards were given out during the event, both named after longtime KCALC tutor Dottie Adams. The Dottie Adams Friend of Literacy award was presented to certified public accountants Linda Hahn and MaryAnn Oldham, while the Dottie Adams Outstanding Volunteer award went to Mary Favela.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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