Warsaw school developing readers at school and at home with Martin's grant

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WARSAW, Ind. (WNDU) - The kids at Harrison Elementary School in Warsaw are counting down the days to Christmas break with some good books.

First-grader Uriel Salvivar likes the holiday classic "The Gingerbread Man."

“Because he says, ‘Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man,’” Uriel said.

Isaak Kennedy likes to read mystery books to his little sister and cousin.

“They need to learn how to spell and sometimes those help them read and spell and that can help them in their grade,” said Isaak, a fourth-grader.

“A lot of those students say, ‘I don't have any books to read at home, I don't have a favorite book yet,'” first-grade teacher Aimee Hagg said.

That’s why, Hagg pushed for books to be added to an already successful food donation program called the Boomerang Backpack.

“Basically, we send bags home with food in it for the weekends for students who need a little extra help with having sufficient food over the weekends,” Hagg said. “And it's all things students can make themselves.”

The school found financial partners to help drive down the cost of the books to about $1 a book.

“We do it for over 10 months, so for $1,000, all the Boomerang Backpacks can have a book in them for once a month and we can help students learn to love reading,” Hagg said.

Martin’s Super Markets' $1,000 One School at a Time grant is the perfect amount to buy enough books for an entire school year.

“Oh, I squealed with delight when I got the news,” Hagg said. “It was very exciting. The kids are going to be thrilled and love it. We're just so thankful. We feel blessed.”

Each book ends up helping more than just one student.

“It helps their siblings, it helps their cousins,” Hagg explained. “We have many students that English is their second language, and we found that some of our parents are learning to read with these books that are going home because their student is reading it to them, so we're helping the families in total.”

With the books that are sent home each month, fifth-grader Sherlin Zaca is building a nice library collection at home, and she’s happy to share the stories with her parents.

“Sometimes when I read I tell her about the book, but I talk in English because I don't know how to explain it in Spanish, and now she understands me a lot better in English than in Spanish,” Sherlin said.

The program is building stronger readers at school and at home.

“If I get more books at home, then I can read to my little brother that's 2,” said Ailah Burchette, a second-grader.

When asked about her favorite part of reading, Ailah had the perfect response.

“The happy endings!” she exclaimed.

If you would like to nominate your school for a Martin’s Super Markets $1,000 One School at a Time grant, click here.