A reading program for elementary school students is still looking for adults willing to share their love of books with eager kids.

Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) needs 14 volunteers at Capt. Robert Gray Elementary, 20 volunteers at John Jacob Astor Elementary, 23 volunteers at Warrenton Grade School, 15 volunteers at Seaside Heights Elementary and five volunteers at Cannon Beach Elementary.

The SMART program allows a student to make an adult friend who reads with them 30 minutes per week. Students receive two free books a month to take home and keep. They learn how to read and discuss books, and they discover that reading really isn't boring.

"The best is when kids begin to recommend books to each other and get excited on their way back from class," said Kerri Lambert, SMART coordinator for Warrenton Grade School and Gray Elementary.

On the first day of a school's library check-out, Lambert said she recently heard a kindergartner bubble over with excitement. He received a free book through the SMART program that day, and also got to borrow one from the library.

"This is the best day!" he exclaimed.

SMART volunteers are asked to commit one hour a week to mentor two children.

Those interested in volunteering should call Stephanie Gohring at (503) 842-4212 or Kerri Lambert at 338-1025. Volunteers may also contact the schools directly.

Challenge grantStatewide, SMART is nearing the end of a three-year, 10-to-1 challenge grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In 2001, the foundation stipulated that if SMART could raise $10 million over the course of three years, the foundation would provide a $1 million gift to SMART.

So far, SMART is 98 percent of the way there. If SMART can raise the final $200,000 by the end of this year, the foundation will contribute another $20,000 to SMART, fulfilling the $1 million gift to the organization.

To pledge a donation, call (800) 355-3999 or visit (www.getsmartoregon.org)

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