HURON — Fifth-grade students at the Washington 4-5 Center have gone above and beyond in their first annual Book Drive to benefit summer school students in grades K-5 on the Heartland Region United Way Day of Action, which will be June 21.
Through their efforts, fifth-grade students collected more than 1,500 gently-used books that will be distributed to summer school students in grades K-5. On the HRUW Day of Action, members of the community are invited to spend half an hour reading to students attending summer school. Each student is also given a book to take home.
Fifth-grade teacher Michelle Azar said it all came about when her class was learning different verb tenses and students came across a sentence on their worksheet that said, “My class is collecting books for a book drive.”
“A few of them asked me what a book drive is, and after I explained they immediately wanted to do one,” Azar explained. They began collecting books in early March and completed the book drive by the end of the month.
“I was so inspired,” she added. “They are such kind-hearted individuals who wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
There are seven fifth-grade classes at the Washington 4-5 Center, Azar said. “When the rest of the fifth graders wanted to join in, I knew it was going to be an incredible thing,” she added.
Fifth-grader Kaitlynn Richwalski said, “It was fun, and I felt like I was doing something good for other kids in our community.”
Classmate Jolie Carrillo added, “I felt excited because I love reading, and I think every kid should have a chance to read good books.”
“It was fun,” said Roger Htoo. “I liked the idea of helping other people who don’t have access to good books, and I hope they enjoy the books!”
“I was excited for the kids who would get the books,” said Eva Ramm, while Jackson Reno decided, “I got to bring in books that I knew kids would enjoy — especially on rainy days,” he added.
Rhonda Kludt, Heartland Region United Way Executive Director, said the book drive has been a tremendous bonus for local Day of Action activities.
“United Ways across the world use that date as a call to make a difference in your community,” Kludt said. “One of the United Way pillars is education with emphasis on literacy.”
The HRUW Day of Action focuses on reading and literacy by focusing on students in the summer school program. “That’s what we began the book drive for, so we could give each student a book,” Kludt said.
“These fifth graders decided to help us out,” she added. “About 500 kids attend summer school.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer to read to students for a half an hour on the June 21 Day of Action, is asked to contact Kludt at 352-3537.
Other Heartland Region United Way programs that focus on literacy are Mentors and the Imagination Library.
“Making sure children have reading material at home is critical to exposure to written words and increasing vocabulary,” Kludt said. “If you read 20 minutes a day you are exposed to a million words a year.”
Azar said the response to the book drive by students was phenominal.
“We look forward to making this an annual fifth grade service project,” Azar said.