By Matt Montague Each June for the past five years, Lansing Elementary School identifies children who could use a little extra help with reading for the summer.Each of these kids is invited to partner with a “reading buddy,” an adult volunteer who will meet them at the library once a week to work with them on their reading throughout the summer.Many times, the student doesn’t just maintain their reading level in the troublesome time between the school years – they actually advance it.This remarkable program - “Lansing Loves to Read” – was developed and is run by volunteers whose sole motivation is to share their love of reading with a kid.Lisa Campbell is one of Lansing Loves to Read’s founding members.“I have a 12-year-old son and when he started kindergarten, I volunteered in the classroom,” Lisa said. “They had a program called ‘reading buddies’ and I worked with a kindergarten class and a third-grade class. I saw how challenging it was to serve children with diverse needs in supporting literacy efforts in the classroom.”“I remember feeling that reading is where it all begins. How can we begin to be successful without this foundation?”Lisa spoke with Sandy Rapp, an English Language Arts specialist at Lansing, about becoming a reading buddy over the summer. The conversation grew and the two developed a “wish list” of literacy services needed in the town. Lisa reached out to the Child Development Council, local community organizations, and her friends from the Lansing Community Library.A core group of Community Outreach Volunteers got together five years ago to launch the program: Judy Hinderliter, Jen Makowsky, Heather Barbuti, and Lisa. This group grew to include Deborah Mann, Laura Morse, Danielle Hildreth, and Sheila Bowman.The children work with teachers, visit the library and learn outside of the classroom. They go to Salt Point, for example, to learn about the ospreys nesting there from biologists and then are given books about the birds to learn more.“It’s a community collaboration,” Lisa said. “The Friends of Salt Point provide the biologists, the Lansing Market delivers food, and both the Lansing Lions Club and Lansing Community Council provide regular support”Lansing Loves to Read was recently recognized for their work.“Michelle Calupca from the library nominated us for the Empire State Center for the Book Library of Congress Literacy Award,” Lisa said. “Superintendent Chris Pettograsso and retired teacher and volunteer Barbara Morse wrote letters of support for us, and we won!”While the summer reading buddies are their primary focus, the group also promotes literacy through the annual “Zero to Three Jubilee” an early childhood family celebration, special events such as “Ballplayers Love to Read,” centered on Lansing Native Matt Christopher’s youth sports books, “Story Time in the Park,” and “Poetry Days,” in collaboration with the Lansing Historical Society, Lansing Community Library and Lansing Central Schools.“Our message is literacy is important. Books are important,” Lisa said. “The Reading Buddy Program is incredibly rewarding – you don’t need to be a teacher, you just need to have a love of reading.”“Be joyous. We want the kids to have fun; to have a positive association with reading. And we want to convey a much bigger message to them: your community cares about you.”One way to get kids reading is through magazines, Lisa said.A community member came up with the idea.“Everyone loves getting something good in the mail.”Bakers Acres at 1104 Auburn Road is offering a chance to support this idea Oct. 6 when 25 percent of their “You Pick” proceeds will go to support magazine subscriptions for developing readers in Lansing.“Just come in and say ‘I want to support ‘Lansing Loves to Read.’” Watch Fire PlannedThe 28th annual National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition Day “Watch Fire” will be held Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. at Myers Park.All are invited to bring their families and friends to honor America’s POWs and MIAs. This is also an event for the proper disposal of worn American flags. The organization welcomes wood donations for the fire. Contact Gary at (315) 730 7726 or Harvey at 607 898 3507 for more information. Senior Class Homecoming BBQThe Senior Class will be holding its annual Homecoming chicken BBQ Oct. 5 from 4 p.m. until gone in front of the Elementary School. Prices are $7 for halves and $9 for dinners. Lisa’s RunLisa’s Run, a 5K race/walk in honor of Lisa Sweazey Topoleski, will be held Sept. 29 in Myers Park. On-site registration will be from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. at Pavilion B and the race will begin at 9 a.m. Registration forms are available at Lansing Recreation Department, online at lansingrec.com, or by request at The Last Foundation. For more information, call Jenn Suwara at 592-6705 or Melinda Sweazey at 592-7822.
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