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Dozens of local volunteers read in unison to Anderson Primary (shown) and Hemingway Elementary students November 8, during Black River United Way third annual “United to Read” program.

Photo by Michaele Duke

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Read pic1

Photo by Michaele Duke

On November 8, Anderson Primary and Hemingway Elementary students enjoyed reading with dozens of community members. The volunteers were a part of Black River United Way’s third annual “United to Read” program. The program is a collaborative event, where volunteers read the same to book to over 6,000 kindergarten to second grade students across Williamsburg, Georgetown, and Horry counties.

Saferia Cumbee, an AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Black River United Way United to Read, said the program is one local response to our nation’s reading crisis as it connects community volunteers to every elementary school kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms throughout all three counties. “Our goal is to show volunteers how much fun and worthwhile it is to read to a child, to show our children that the community cares for them and raise awareness to the importance of third grade reading,” she said.

Jeff Singleton has been a volunteer for three years.  “One of my favorite days in the school year is when I take part in the United Way’s reading program.  Today was that day for me at Anderson Primary.  I read to the kindergarten class as they sat on the floor on the mat and I in a rocking chair provided by Mr. Lewis, the teacher,” said Singleton. “This class was extremely disciplined to be in that age group. The book was entitled Why Should I Recycle.  It was an elementary explanation of why recycling is important.  They were very engaged and asked rather intelligent questions for kindergarteners. I look forward to next year with the same excitement and enthusiasm.”

Town of Lane Mayor Charlie Fulton experienced his first time volunteering with United Way. “It was a great pleasure to read to the students at W. M. Anderson Primary School,” said Fulton who is involved in different reading programs throughout the school district.  “The students were very attentive as I read.  The students were later engaged in discussing why it’s important to recycle and things that can be recycled.” 

Black River United Way Vice President of Community Impact Tamara Greene read at Hemingway Elementary. “Reading to our children is so important in the school setting,” said Greene. “Students love seeing fresh faces and showing off the strategies they learned from their teachers, and volunteers really get to experience the schools right in their backyards. It really gives community stakeholders a chance to take a look inside our classrooms, and hopefully would incise them to volunteer on a regular basis. Our children and teachers need the support, and if we truly believe that it takes a village, then we need to start acting like it.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for 30 minutes a week and in turn make a big impact on students’ reading throughout the year can contact the Black River United Way by visiting the website at http://unitedtoread2018.eventbrite.com or call Tamara Greene at (843) 546-6317.