Volunteers needed for UWRC reading event

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, United Way of the River Cities will once again host its biggest volunteer-driven effort of the year with Read Across the River Cities. 

This year will be the second annual Read Across the River Cities in which volunteers will read in every third-grade classroom across UWRC’s six-county service area of Cabell, Lincoln, Mason and Wayne counties in West Virginia and Gallia and Lawrence counties in Ohio.

The book selection is the classic, “Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.” 

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In addition to experiencing volunteer readers in their classrooms, each student will receive their own copy of the book to take home. 

Last year, more than 200 volunteers read to 2,500 students in 124 third-grade classrooms. With the addition of Gallia County to the UWRC’s service area, approximately 330 more students will be served. 

“One of the main goals of Read Across the River Cities is to promote a love of reading among our community’s young children,” said Jedd Flowers, UWRC’s executive director. “One way we hope to accomplish that is by getting people from the community excited about volunteering to read in our local schools. We also understand that the presence of caring adults in our schools can make a tremendous difference in academic outcomes and the social and emotional well-being of students. We hope our volunteers will see the value in reading aloud to students and will want to continue that relationship with the school of their choice.”

Currently, about half the reader spots have already been filled. Reading times are at either 10 a.m. or 1 p.m., depending on the school, and the time commitment is estimated to be around an hour. Read Aloud West Virginia and UWRC will also partner to provide a virtual orientation to prep volunteers on what to expect and tips on reading aloud to young children.

“Educators agree that it would be difficult to talk about school success without addressing literacy,” Lena Burdette, UWRC’s director of education. “Reading is the foundation for learning. Reading aloud to children has been called the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading. Children usually read on one level and listen on a higher level. Study after study has demonstrated reading well by the end of third grade is a critical milestone toward academic success, and ultimately, success in life.”

People, organizations or companies interested in volunteering can visit unitedwevolunteer.org to see lists of schools by county and to sign up. Volunteers will also receive a free t-shirt to wear the day of the event.

Read Across the River Cities is sponsored by the Weisberg Foundation, Huntington Foundation, Alcon Foundation, Marathon Petroleum, Mountain Health Network, Peoples Bank Foundation, Cabell County Schools, Huntington Mall and a host of other local businesses and individuals. 

For more information about sponsorship opportunties, contact Bill Rosenberger, director of resource development at bill.rosenberger@unitedwayrivercities.org or 304-523-8929 ext. 112.