Reading Buddies is a club where Southmoreland High School Students walk to the Primary Center to read books to the children there. This club has been going on for six years according to Mrs. Hixson. When she started the club, she was actually trying to help another charity.
“I was looking for something to do for the holidays for community service,” Mrs. Hixson said. “I noticed in the newspaper that they were asking for new and used children’s books for Operation Santa Claus. I decided that I was going to do a book drive. I told all of my classes that whoever brought in the most books would have a lazy day. We collected over 700 books.”
Mrs. Hixson said she called Operation Santa Claus and was told that the drive was over.
“I was heartbroken with over 700 children’s books and nothing to do with them,” she said.
Around the same time, Mrs. Hixson was working on getting her masters degree for reading and had to go to SPC for observations. SPC was doing a competition to see who could read the most books. The students had to go home and read and then get a paper signed after they finished reading.
“I asked if a lot of kids actually read, and the librarian told me that some kids read 100 books and some read zero,” Mrs. Hixson said. “I started to talk to one of the kids nearby and asked why he he hadn’t read any books. He said that no one at home would read with him. After hearing that, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my 700 books.”
Mrs. Hixson enjoys coming up with special activities to do for Reading Buddies. To do these special ones, she needs a lot of volunteers. According to Mrs. Hixson, she has about 30 students participating this year.
“One year about 70 percent of the students, at one point, volunteered,” she said.
Reading Buddies offers a lot to the students at SPC, but Hixson also feels it offers a lot to the students that volunteer, and they agree.
“As a teacher and a mother there’s nothing like a child looking up at you with admiration, and I think that this provides that for the high schoolers,” Mrs. Hixson said.
Sophomores Amelia Echard and Joselyn Busato and senior Morgan Conty are some of the most involved students. They agree with Mrs. Hixson when she says they can learn from this experience.
“I really learn patience and how to talk to children rather than how you talk to other people,” Echard said.
“You definitely learn to think on your feet,” Busato said. “Those kids have vivid imaginations and tell some pretty crazy stories, so spending time with them gives you communication and patience skills. Seeing some of the kids and hearing about their lives can also be very humbling.”
“The most important lesson that I have learned from Reading Buddies is that it’s the little things in life that make everyday special,” Conty said.
The students that participate in Reading Buddies love volunteering their time with the kids. According to Hixson, a lot of times an SHS student and an SPC student tend to stay partners throughout the weeks and develop a friendship.
“I love to think about how that child is getting the love and attention they need and that they’re getting it from books and our program,” Mrs. Hixson said.
According to the students who volunteer, there are a lot of fun memories, but they all seem to have a favorite.
“I love singing Christmas Carols because every kid is so energetic and cute when they’re singing,” Echard said.
“Last year, at the Reading Buddies Christmas Extravaganza,” Busato said. “My brother, Alex, and I played Christmas songs on our ukuleles, and the kids sang along. It was so much fun, and I’ll always remember that.”