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NMSU students, faculty, staff volunteer in local schools for National Day of Service

Students, faculty and staff from the New Mexico State University College of Education and Service Learning for Educational Distinction Program partnered with the Las Cruces Public Schools and the Children's Reading Foundation of Dona Ana County to read books to children Tuesday at Fairacres Elementary School and Myrna's Children's Village as part of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.


Six female volunteers stand in front of a wall decorated with school bulletin boards and children's art at Fairacres Elementary School.
(Left to right) Adelina Rodriguez, Denise Rodriguez-Strawn, Tessa Hendricks, Flor Ogaz, Carolina Perez and Jan Reed volunteered to read to students at Fairacres Elementary School on the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. (NMSU photo by Emily C. Kelley)
Flor Ogaz, NMSU student, reads to children in a classroom at Fairacres Elementary School on Tuesday.
Flor Ogaz, a New Mexico State University Service Learning for Educational Distinction student, volunteered to read to students at Fairacres Elementary School on the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. (NMSU photo by Emily C. Kelley)
A woman sits on the floor while reading to four children.
Adelina Rodriguez, NMSU College of Education dean's office, left, volunteered to read to students at Fairacres Elementary School on the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. (NMSU photo by Emily C. Kelley)

In 2009, Congress designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance as a way to honor 9/11 victims, survivors and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.

Denise Rodriguez-Strawn, director of the NMSU Service Learning for Educational Distinction Program, organized the NMSU effort.

"Every single year, my office and a group of students will do something to give back to the community," she said. "This year, I partnered with Adelina Rodriguez in the College of Education dean's office, and student organizations, and we decided to go to Fairacres in the morning and spend the afternoon at Myrna's Children's Village reading to children, as well as to donate more than 100 books."

The group arrived at Fairacres with books in tow, ready to have fun and read to the students.

"This is the fun part of the year where we're able to go hang out with kids and kind of get back to reality," Rodriguez-Strawn said.

Some of the books featured were Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends," an educational book about sharks, a story about the 50 states, an "I Spy Mystery" and a funny book about the things a book cannot do like send text messages or surf the internet. In the end, the children in the story were happy simply reading the book and enjoying a story.

"In this day and age, everyone is so overwhelmed and so very busy," said Kathy Norris, principal of Fairacres. "For them to take time out to read to kids, it makes such a big difference in the life of a child. It could change the life of a child, just to read one story. They will remember it forever."

Adelina Rodriguez, student program coordinator in the College of Education dean's office, said she volunteered because reading to the kids was an opportunity to give back to the community and to step away from the day-to-day stresses of being an adult.

"It gives you a different perspective and a new sense of energy," Rodriguez said.

To read about the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, please visit www.serve.gov.