By Lt. Col. Jefferson Wolfe
7th Mission Support Command Public Affairs Officer

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Solders from the 7th Mission Support Command celebrated Read Across America by reading to preschoolers at the Vogelweh Child Development Center.

Maj. Maritza Garriga, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Martha Ervin and Master Sgt. Wendy Williams each read two books to the youths March 8 in their classrooms.

"We like to have them come to read to the kids, because it provides a good element to their day that they don't usually see," said Susan Lucas, a program specialist at the CDC. "It promotes their social skills, language development, imagination, problem solving and things like that."

Williams had lots of fun while she was reading.

"Oh, the kids were wonderful," she said. "The kids were familiar with one of the books that I read to them, which means they are doing a lot of reading. I was very impressed."

Every person reads a story in a different way, said Kristin McCloud, another program specialist at the CDC.

"Having different people read books allows them to gain different things from the same book," she said.

The kids were engaged and very excited about reading, paying close attention to the tongue twisters in "Fox in Socks," and carefully counting all the dots on the main character in "Put Me in The Zoo," Ervin said.

Having outsiders come to read helps emphasize reading as a source of enjoyment which makes the kids want to learn to read, said Candice Lang, training curriculum specialist.

"It really ignites that spark," she said.

The kids weren't the only ones who benefited.

"It made me feel very proud that I was allowed to come into the school to share my thoughts and read to kids," Ervin said.

Williams said she felt a sense of accomplishment after finishing her books.

"Just to see the joy in the kids' faces and knowing that I'm giving back the community means a lot to me," she said.

Any organizations interested in volunteering to read can contact the CDC for more information, Lang said.

Recently, second grade students from Vogelweh Elementary School came to the CDC and read to the preschoolers and toddlers in small groups, Lang said.

"It went very well in the preschool classrooms," she said.