Students, adults to bond over books on Reading Day

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The United Way of Lee County plans to use new-school technology to encourage an age-old passion this coming week.  

Tuesday April 30 has been dubbed Reading Day at local elementary schools — a day for adult volunteers to donate an hour of their time to visit the schools and listen to children read or discuss what they’ve read recently, said United Way of Lee County volunteer Ron Hewett. The times vary per school, and the volunteers are asked to connect with the educators through the United Way’s Volunteer Lee program, a website that allows Lee County residents to learn and connect with various civic, religious or public organizations that are looking for volunteers, Hewett said.

“The purpose was to give the kids a chance to show off their reading skills,” said Hewett, who oversees the project, “and, two, get people channeled through Volunteer Lee.”

Lee County Associate Superintendent Andy Bryan said he was looking forward to the Reading Day because of the opportunity it affords students to illustrate what they are learning in the classroom.

“We are very excited about our partnership with Volunteer Lee,” Bryan said, who will replace Jeff Moss as Lee County Schools superintendent on July 1. “We feel it will certainly serve as a betterment to our community, and it’s another avenue to attract volunteers for our schools.”

Showing the various schools how the Volunteer Lee website can garner support for causes and coordinate volunteers for their projects has become a priority for the website, Hewett said. 

“We have been in operation for about nine months, and we are still trying to encourage the public, the schools and organizations to sign up,” he said. “We are continuing to try and work all of the elements into the program.”

Nearly 500 people are registered through the volunteer site, Hewett said, and half are students within the county school system.

With the summer months ahead, Hewett said he is challenging civic organizations to find ways to engage the student base with a variety of volunteer opportunities.

“We have a real opportunity to have some fun and channel [volunteerism] into the organizations,” he said.