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Volunteers Team Up with Kids for Summer Reading Program

The United Way has launched a pilot program to match kids with community volunteers to practice their reading skills.
Storytelling is easy for kids at this age. But, picking out words on a page takes some practice. That's where volunteers come in. They're part of the United Way's Summer Adventure Reading Program.

"We are hoping that by doing this program students can maintain their literacy skills over the summer. Students shouldn't take a vacation from reading while they're on summer vacation," says United Way's Director of Community Investment, Jodi Bloemker.

Volunteers spend about an hour each week reading to St. Joseph kids who are active in the school district's Explorer's Program.

"It's such a small commitment to read to students for an hour. It's a simple thing to do that can really have an impact on the life of the child," Bloemker says.

"I think it's good to get somebody new with them reading and kind of learning new things and being able to tell them stories," says volunteer Kali Maloney.

The reading program takes place every Tuesday through July at Mark Twain and Hyde Elementary Schools.

The program stresses the importance of reading to students and how important it is to prepare them for their future.

"It's very important to read with them as much as possible," Maloney says.

Not only is reading fun for the kids, but students and volunteers will be rewarded for their efforts.

"At the end of the summer on the last day, we're going to have a small celebration to celebrate both the volunteers and the students for reading throughout the summer; to encourage them to continue to read throughout the summer as well," says Bloemker. 

"It's just great to get out into the community not only where you're volunteering but around other organizations that are also volunteers," Maloney says.

This is the first year for the program. If the pilot is successful, United Way plans to expand the program to more schools next summer.
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