HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Army Contracting Command Soldiers and civilians participated in the 17th annual Read Across America March 3 as members of the command went to classrooms here in support of the national program.

Across the country, volunteers gave up time to read to school-aged children as part of the National Education Association?'s annual program.

Keith Jackson, ACC chief of staff, and Col. Jerry Jones, Expeditionary Contracting Command chief of staff, visited Louis J. Morris Elementary School while other ACC and ECC participants stopped by Rolling Hills Elementary School. Nine civilians and one Soldier offered an hour of their time throughout the day, reading to more than 250 students.

"Our guest reader event for Dr. Seuss' birthday was a great success," said Shannon Pilotte, library media specialist and event coordinator at Morris Elementary School. "The students were excited to see all of the different volunteers who were also excited about what we are doing at our school."

Some volunteers said they think they got more than they gave from the experience.

"I had a great experience teaching the students about the joy and importance of reading, encouraging them to get more knowledge through reading and seeing them smile and laugh at the story I read," said Erika McPherson, ECC Office of Command Counsel.

The volunteers did not just read to the children but also discussed the importance of reading. Volunteers read to children in kindergarten through fourth grade, from tales by Dr. Seuss to Aesop's Fables.

"It was a pleasure to introduce [students] to the timeless wisdom of Aesop's Fables. As I told the fourth-graders, when you can read you can figure out how to do anything," said Carol Wolf, ACC Office of Counsel.

It was time well spent, not just for the volunteers, but also for the children. The schools and teachers appreciated the support they received.

"The students and staff were excited by the visits of Redstone leaders and volunteers," said Barbara Williams, Redstone Arsenal Child, Youth and School Services School Liaison Officer and the Redstone Arsenal Read Across America coordinator. "What a great way to show children we care by taking the time to participate in their educational programs. I have received thank-you messages from several schools. It was a total success."