Gogos fundraise for Africa with ‘Cheater’s Scrabble,’ feather fascinators

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.

In just a few weeks the Royal City Gogos, a group of almost 50 New Westminster grandmothers and “grandothers” formed to help the Stephen Lewis Foundation are hosting a Scrabble event entitled “Good Words for Africa.”

The first “Good Words for Africa” Scrabble meet and craft fair was held two years ago and I had the pleasure of taking part along with a team organized by New Westminster MLA Dawn Black. I’m looking forward to participating with Dawn again this year (here’s the link to my donation/info page).

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game. Those playing Scrabble collect pledges prior to the event, but even those who can’t commit to playing Scrabble that day can drop in for the craft marketplace.

One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”

One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”

I interviewed Royal City Gogos founder Janine Reid about the event. First I asked what people who want to register to play Scrabble should know.

“This isn’t a straight-up Scrabble game – this is a variation and it’s meant to be fun,” Reid said. The Gogos’ press release points out this is “cheater’s Scrabble”:

“This modified game is intended to engage all comers. Many players will come in crazy hats or costumes and create words on a theme… According to event rules, players are allowed to use proper nouns, purchase letters they need, consult the experts from the Vancouver Scrabble Club and even purchase cheat sheets! There will be door prizes galore and scorekeeping is optional.”

Of course if you’re a more hard-core Scrabbler, there’s nothing to stop you from playing the rules the way you normally would, but the looser rules mean that players of any background can participate and have a great time.

Players can register and receive a pledge kit by sending their name, address and phone number to royalcitygogos@gmail.com and Reid points out it’s important to register soon.

“We’re 50% full and we haven’t even started advertising,” she said. “It’s important for people to register soon and get started.”

People who can’t stay to play Scrabble are still encouraged to stop by for the marketplace, which will run from 10-4. Entry is free. The marketplace will be stocked with gift items and fashion accessories made locally by the Gogos or in fair trade African cooperatives. One highlight of the sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators”.

All proceeds from the craft market and Scrabble will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

An estimated 14.8 million children have been orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their grandmothers, having buried their own children, have stepped into the breach to parent again with few resources. The Grandmothers Campaign is a Canadian initiative to raise urgently needed funds which are directed by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to community-level organizations that provide necessities such as food, educational supplies, uniforms and school fees, home-based care, HIV counseling and testing, adequate housing, grief support and micro-credit loans.

“We made $43,000 last time and in our dreams we would like to raise $50,000 but we’ll just have to see how it all unfolds,” Reid said.

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