Every school year, pre-school students struggling with reading skills get a little help from a small, dedicated group of volunteers via the Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) program.

And more volunteers are always needed.

“This is a fun and rewarding volunteer opportunity,” said Cheryl Brown, area manager for SMART, who oversees the program from Reedsport to Brookings.

The long-standing reading program has volunteers read one-on-one with preschool children. Two new books are chosen each month by participating preschoolers to take home and share with their families.

The program at the Brookings Head Start facility runs Tuesday mornings from 9:05 to 10:05 a.m. and Tuesday afternoon at 1:40 to 2:40 p.m.

For more information contact: Brown at 541-266-7476 or fill out an application at www.getsmartoregon.org.

“We’ve partnered with Head Start and our goal is to serve as many children as possible,” Brown said.

“We will have about 40 students at Head Start and we need at least four new volunteers,” she said.

Before that, however, volunteers are required to fill out an application, go through a background check and attend a group orientation meeting. The process takes about two weeks.

“The volunteers are not teachers; they don’t need to be,” Brown said. “They simply spend one-on-one time with each student, fostering a love of reading by having fun with books and reading.”

“The one-on-one reading session makes a difference in the life of a child,” Brown said. “It is heartwarming witnessing the excitement preschoolers express for their SMART volunteer and their turn for one-on-one reading. Each participating child receives two new books of their choice to take home and keep.

SMART is Oregon’s largest volunteer-driven literacy support organization.

“We are able to serve over 10,000 children each year because of our SMART family of 5,000 volunteers giving an hour a week to their community’s children through SMART,” Brown said.

Donations are welcome and can be made at local schools or online at www.getsmartoregon.org.

“Simply mention your donation is for Brookings Head Start or Kalmiopsis Elementary,” Brown said.

18552765