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Former RIF Kids Helping Inspire New RIF Kids

RIF’s efforts would be futile without the caring, hard-working volunteers who give their time and energy to impact local communities around the country. Their motivation goes beyond the distribution of a single book – they are eager to share a love of reading and ultimately increase the opportunities children have to read, learn and grow. One such RIF volunteer in Arizona, Patricia Heck, made such an incredible impact on the children she served that they came back to her as teenagers asking how they could help. In turn, they created Club RIF, a program that paired teens with elementary school students to provide mentorship, motivation and, of course, new books!  Almost three decades later, those Club RIF Alumni continue to help break the cycle of illiteracy and create tomorrow’s community of learners. Pat shared with us details from a recent reading celebration event at the St. Peter's Indian Mission School:

Our big distribution at St. Peter's Indian Mission on January 27th marked the 27th year of bringing former RIF kids to volunteer and distribute books at the Mission School. 

Club RIF Alumni
St. Peter Indian Mission School JOE Gila River Indian Community

Over 30 volunteers worked together to plan an event to bring books to life for the students. Many volunteers were students from Chaparral High School and Arizona State University who had received RIF books during their childhoods and returned as volunteers to pay forward their book-love.

Chaparral High School and Arizona State University

The volunteers kicked off the event with read-alouds and performed a dance to get the 300 pre-K to eighth-grade students excited.

Volunteer reading to children
RIF Volunteers

Each student got to choose a brand new book to take home and personally decorate a bookmark that would help encourage their reading habits. To add even more fun to the celebration, Clifford the Big Red dog stopped by and chatted with the children as they had their faces painted!

Volunteer Reading
Volunteer Face Painting
Clifford the Big Red Dog

The students embraced the creative and festive mood by performing traditional Indian dances and even included the RIF volunteers in a Friendship Dance!

Students Performing Traditional Indian Dances
Students Performing Traditional Indian Dances
Students Performing Traditional Indian Dances
Students Performing Traditional Indian Dances

The distribution was a magical and wonderful cultural exchange that truly exhibited the lasting influence Reading Is Fundamental can have on an individual’s life and how it can go on to impact the lives of the next generation of readers.


This story from Patricia Heck and the members of Club RIF is just one small look into the larger work that RIF’s network contributes to their communities every day. Find out how you can make a difference by getting involved with RIF today: