out. Nick Johnson and Anna Maglunog read books to fourth graders at
Magnolia Elementary School Saturday on College Spirit Day.
than 250 student and alumni volunteers from around Southern California
read stories about Thanksgiving to children in local elementary schools
for the second annual College Spirit Day Saturday.
The event was
sponsored by Reading to Kids, an organization that brings college
students from USC, UCLA and other colleges to visit underprivileged
schools and foster interest in reading books.
The program focuses mainly on children from low-income families where English is not their primary language.
volunteers have a desire to come out and engage the kids in a book,"
said Jen Smith, an administrative assistant at the UCLA Bruincorps. "It
makes a difference in the child's life, and they enjoy watching adults
reading a book to them."
The purpose of College Spirit Day was
to get volunteers to wear their college apparel both as a competition
to see which college was best represented and to get children excited
about a college environment.
There were 29 students from USC
at the event, but the overall winner was UCLA with 56 volunteers. UCLA
also won College Spirit Day last year.
Seeing older students
wearing their college apparel makes elementary school students want to
go to college, Maryanna Abdo, program director for Reading to Kids,
Abdo also said that for many of the children, early
planning for college is crucial because it might be too late by high
"Reading to kids really provides an excellent
opportunity for kids in the surrounding community to develop.
Eventually, hopefully, these kids will have an opportunity to go to
USC," Lee Diaz, president of Alpha Phi Omega, said.
Volunteers interacted with children in reading, singing and making crafts related to the stories read.
were a nice group of kids," said Alex Vejnoska, a freshman majoring in
philosophy and classics. "It looked like they were really eager to
While College Spirit Day is an annual event, Reading to Kids holds book readings twice a month.
The flexible scheduling and close locations of the schools attracted many volunteers to the program.
got hundreds and hundreds of kids who could be watching cartoons
Saturday morning who choose to be here every month," Tracy Wilkison, a
volunteer and lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said. "We're here
to get them excited about books."
Volunteers said programs like Reading to Kids are important.
lot of (the students) can't speak English fluently, which reiterates
the fact that we need more programs like this," Sue Jin, a senior at
UCLA majoring in anthropology, said.