United We Read: Lubbock Area United Way event pairs volunteers with second graders
October 21, 2021| Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
It was story time Thursday morning in Lubbock, with more than 400 volunteers from the community reading the same book to second-grade classrooms around the community as part of the 4th annual Lubbock Area United Way United We Read event.
Glenn Cochran, the president and CEO of Lubbock Area United Way who has been with the nonprofit for more than 30 years, credited her staff for coming up with the idea to host the literacy program in the community.
“We started with four of the school districts in Lubbock County,” said Cochran, “and we had more and more people want to volunteer. More companies wanted to help sponsor the cost of the books and supplies.”
Now, Cochran said 190 second-grade classrooms participate, with a total of almost 3,700 students having volunteers read a story to them and then lead them in a related arts-and-crafts project.
The event is also a way for the community to get more involved in schools. Michelle McCord, the superintendent at Frenship ISD, said the students enjoy seeing the volunteers.
Learn more about United We Read
“It’s wonderful that community members get to come in and see the great things that are happening in public schools,” McCord said, “but then also for the kiddos, it helps them get to see the support that they have, not only from their teachers, but from the community.”
This year, the book chosen for United We Read was "Ish" by Peter H. Reynolds. The story is about a young boy’s relationship with his art and learning to think “ish-ly” instead of trying to achieve the concept of perfection.
One of the volunteers who read to the students, Lubbock City Council Woman Latrelle Joy, said it’s always fun being able to visit with the children and teach them.
“They listen, they respond, and they ask good questions - even though sometimes they’re very simple,” said Joy, “they ask good questions and they’re inquisitive.”
Through donations to Lubbock Area United Way, the organization is able to provide every student with their own book to take home and a craft that goes along with the story.
This time around, the students used pipe cleaners to create their very own Ish-inspired art, helping them connect with the story.
“More than anything else, it’s for the children,” Cochran said, “to help reinforce the importance of reading because we just can’t emphasize it enough.”