All it takes is one mentor to change a child’s life, and the United Way is looking to enroll 1 million people to help make a difference for today’s youth in America.
United Way branches across the United States kicked off a three-year campaign Tuesday with a “Day of Action,” calling residents to step up and give back to their local schools. The effort drew 33 volunteers in Southington who took an hour out of their day to join local classes and read to students as part of the effort.
“We had the chance to send readers to four local schools. The United Way of Southington is one of three branches in the state that conducted this kick-off event,” said Carol Reilly, executive director of the United Way in Southington. “The ultimate goal is to engage the community around us to get more involved in a child’s education.”
The volunteers, who attended classes at the Plantsville, Flanders, Hatton and South End elementary schools, each were given a book to take to local classes and read with the children.
Students in first, second and third-grade at the Plantsville Elementary School were attentive and receptive to the volunteers, sitting eagerly as they read and interacting with them afterwards.
Natalie Foligno and Max Chubet, both students in Ericka Bayron’s third-grade class, said the book, “Bats at the Ballgame” by Brian Lies, was not only enjoyable but taught them that if you don’t give up, eventually you will succeed.
“It definitely teaches you a lesson that you won’t always lose,” Max said. “Eventually you are going to find a way to win.”
The stories in each classroom were different, but the message to the students was the same said Plantsville Principal Patricia Corvello.
“Literacy is such a large part of our program and to have members of the community come in and read shows the whole world is reading,” Corvello said. “It’s a message that students take in and one that encourages them to learn.”
Reilly said the event was one of several that the United Way of Southington will host over the next three years en route to getting 1 million volunteers active. Future events have not been planned, she said, but interested volunteers can sign up to help at the United Way’s office at Factory Square.
Bayron said even a little time could make a world of difference for the students in Southington schools.
“The kids love it,” she said. “It’s something that sticks in their minds. They may not always remember the day to day lessons, but these types of events build memories for them that they will never forget.”