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SALT LAKE CITY — Halloween is bringing one of the best treats of all for some students at North Star Elementary School in Salt Lake City.
Lucinda the Reading Witch got students in the spirit Monday, but the real cause for celebration was Questar Gas became the first company to get on board the Read Today/Prosperity 2020 effort for businesses to volunteer in schools.
Approximately 30 Questar Gas volunteers will tutor students each week in reading.
"It's certainly important for our economy to have literacy programs that are vibrant and solid here in the community, and we appreciate it," said Craig Wagstaff, executive vice president and COO of Questar Gas.
The Read Today program strives to match business partners with struggling readers in neighborhood schools. During the 2011-2012 school year, the program brought 79 percent of the students who had tutors up to grade-level in their reading; zero percent of them started on grade level at the start of the year.
"A volunteer is literally priceless," said North Star principal Lew Gardiner, who says tutoring with students gives businesses a grassroots view of what's going on in schools.
"It also gives them the joy, the opportunities, the hugs, kisses, and the surprises and all the things students give them," Gardiner said.
AmeriCorps administers the program and trains the volunteers. For many years, AmeriCorps has operated at North Star, now they'll have the tutors they need to help kids throughout the year.
Monday, students trick-or-treated to their Questar tutors with sacks full of candy. But in a few weeks, those kids will read one on one with tutors who chart their progress.
If your business would like to participate as volunteers, check out readtoday.com.