NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Excited and anxious children sit at their desks in anticipation as their guest reader, wearing the familiar green tiger-striped camouflage uniform, walks to the front of the classroom and takes a seat.
He opens the book and begins to read. The words of the book seem to come to life as the children respond with occasional giggles, oohs and ahs.
This is what the children of Manuel J. Cortez Elementary School as well as other local elementary school students experienced during the annual Nevada Reading Week held Feb. 25 to March 1.
Modeled after Dr. Seuss’ “Reading Across America,” Nevada Reading Week offers students a chance to be read to by local community members including Airmen from Nellis Air Force Base.
One Airman from the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron had the opportunity to read a book to Ms. Susan Thompson’s fifth-grade class, and the students were ecstatic to say the least.
“I love children so I thought it would be a good idea to volunteer to read to them,” said Tech. Sgt. Lee Moses, 99th LRS vehicle operator dispatcher. “I thought they felt I was an interesting and cool person, and it felt good to be able to read to them.”
With Nellis being so close to the school, Airmen have the opportunity to make an impact on young children by donating their time to read to them.
“I think it’s very important especially for this neighborhood because the base is close enough to where it is a part of our community,” Angelique Hamilton said, Cortez Elementary School librarian.
The Air Force uniform also plays a role in making a good impression with the children.
“The children get very excited when they see someone in uniform,” Hamilton said. “We had a guest reader leaving the kindergarten class the other day, and she was in uniform. I asked how it went and she told me they were so excited. It made her feel like a superstar. A uniform stands out here.”
The school also hosts other events that Airmen can attend to interact with the children.
“We just had our ‘chefs for kids’ event the beginning of February which is an organization to lessen malnutrition and hunger in children through education and awareness,” Hamilton said. “Chefs from a local hotel came and prepared a healthy breakfast while the service members serve the food to the children.”
These events greatly influence and make a difference in the lives of children in the Las Vegas community, but Airmen don’t have to wait once a year to volunteer for these functions.
“If in the future service members wanted to volunteer more, we would welcome them because they really do [make a difference],” Hamilton said. “We had 39 service members come to read this whole week and the children look forward to it because they know something new is going to happen tomorrow, and it really does get them excited about books.”