ELKHART — Calling all volunteers. Elkhart and Goshen school corporations are in need of readers.

Both school corporations are looking for reading volunteers for their Read United Reading Camps, an eight-week program funded by the United Way in partnership with the Elkhart and Goshen schools.

The camps are comprised of first- through third-grade students who fall just below grade level for reading skills.

The program aims to give those students extra practice in reading in an effort to prepare them to read on grade level and get ready for statewide testing.

The program runs from Jan. 27 to March 19.

Elkhart Reading Camps will be held at Bristol, Mary Beck and Mary Daly elementary schools from 4 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Eastwood will hold a camp from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. on Mondays and from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays.

Goshen Reading Camps will be held at Model, Parkside, Waterford and West Goshen elementary schools from 3 to 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. Chandler will hold a camp from 3 to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Over the course of the hour, volunteers will read to students, listen to them read and complete a reinforcement activity followed by a skills-based game, organizers said.

“Volunteers build a positive relationship with students and students learn that their community cares about them,” said Sharon Sarber, a volunteer engagement specialist for Goshen Community Schools overseeing a Read United program. “It is an easy way to contribute to a significant improvement of a child’s confidence in their reading ability.”

Participating bilingual students can be matched with a bilingual volunteer, Sarber said.

“It helps understanding and comprehension in both languages,” she said.

Many working families face challenges in being able to provide the extra time needed to help students outside the classroom move toward proficiency, which is why programs like reading camps are important for youths, according to organizers.

To date, volunteers for the annual program have come from all areas of the community, such as members of local churches, business partners and civic groups, Sarber said.

Most students who complete the Reading Camps program see an improvement in their reading scores and levels by the end of the session, she said. 

Those interested in volunteering for the program should contact Sarber at ssarber@goshenschools.org or 574-533-8631, Ext. 2048, for Goshen and Diane Lucchese at dianelcares@gmail.com or 574-295-4830, Ext. 7685 for Elkhart. 

Volunteer registration deadline is Friday.

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