Summer Reading Program Puts 1300 Free Books in Salina Homes

Seventy-six adult and teen volunteers spent time this summer reading to children at four of Salina’s schools’ thanks to the Salina Area United Way.   The listeners — children from birth to 18 – each week got to pick out a book of their very own. During the seven-week program, 1308 free books were given to children for their home libraries.

Staff and volunteers of the five-year program, Raising Active Wild Readers (RAWR), distributed the free books one day a week at each of the four schools.  RAWR was offered this year at Heusner, Sunset, and Schilling elementary schools, and Heartland Early Education Center.  The Salina Area United Way partners with the Salina Public Library and USD305’s Summer Lunch program.  Library staff selects books for volunteers to read. Each week the books have a different theme.

“We promote this as a way to strengthen home libraries and also as family time,” said Brenda Gutierrez, Salina Area United Way program director. “We had many adults who accompanied the children. Salina Area United Way paid for their lunches.”

Judy Arpin of Salina has volunteered as a reader for two years. “I love to see the students during the summer that I work with during the school year.  The children and family members enjoy having books read to them while they eat!” said Arpin. “It’s wonderful that they get to take books home. They love picking out books and that encourages them to read during the summer.”  

For more information about the Salina Area United Way, visit To learn more about volunteering, visit 

Photo via United Way: Volunteers Michael Gutierrez, Meaghan Roths, Makenna Roths, Ariana Cannon, and Leonie Harzman. Notice the half-empty book carts? Lots of books given to children through RAWR at Heartland Early Education on that Monday.