The Literacy Council of West Alabama will host its annual fundraiser, "Characters in the Garden," Friday from 6 p.m. until 8:30 at Johnson's Garden & Cafe in Duncanville.

The event is the Literacy Council's largest driver of donations every year and directly impacts its ability to promote literacy in West Alabama, where in some counties, it is estimated that 25 percent of the population is functionally illiterate.

Studies show illiteracy is directly linked to higher rates of crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy, school dropouts, poverty and substance abuse.

The LCWA fights back against illiteracy by using the funds they raise to give books to West Alabama schools that need them, to provide GED scholarships, to sponsor summer reading programs and life skills camps, to place Rural Little Libraries and more.

At "Characters in the Garden," local artists display paintings, sculptures and more that all depict characters and scenes pulled from important pieces of literature.

The event will also feature cocktails and food from local restaurants and a 20 percent discount on purchases from Johnson's Garden.

Tickets for the event cost $25 and are available at the Tuscaloosa Public Library, Ernest & Hadley Bookstore, Johnson's Garden and Cafe and at www.literacywa.org.