Vol. 1, Issue 28, November 25, 2003
Education for the Otiose
Humor Gazette

Charity Raises One Million Crossword Puzzles

The charity organization "Nine Across, Eleven Down" (NAED) has succeeded in raising its first million crosswords for export.

"We really must thank all the dedicated individuals who devoted their time and efforts to making this vision a reality," said NAED founder and president Shirley Briggs. "Thanks to them, thousands of crossword-deprived individuals in third-world countries will enjoy a higher standard of crossword living."

NAED has collected crosswords in the form of books, newspaper clippings, and even the occasional hand-drawn crossword on napkins. The donations have been gathered into brand-new burlap sacks for distribution.

"There was some concern about the New York Times crosswords from Thursday and Friday, as we weren't sure the indigent populations of these third-world countries could handle that level of difficulty," Briggs noted. "But we've decided that the best way to learn is to dive right in."

The crosswords are scheduled to be delivered to the Ivory Coast, New Guinea, and Bolivia, among other destinations. The fact that English is not the official language in any of these places does not seem to faze Briggs.

"Vocabulary exercises are very valuable," she said. "They'll learn tricky perennial crossword mainstays like 'eft' and 'ort.' And since they're all watching American movies anyway, I imagine they'll have no trouble with the cultural references either." She declined to comment on the availability of writing implements either, stating only that "they'll figure something out."

Few charities address this issue directly. Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and UNICEF all declined to officially comment for this story.

"I am really at a loss for words," said Red Cross worker Alison Stone off the record when informed of NAED and its mission.

"Well, if she did more crosswords, she wouldn't be," Briggs retorted brightly.

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