Residents of the Rogue Valley were working together to empower young minds and promote children's literacy Thursday night.
Close to 200 people came out to the Lithia Dodge Superstore in Medford for the "Give Your Heart to S.M.A.R.T." event, a fundraiser for Start Making A Reader Today.
As a volunteer for S.M.A.R.T., NBC5's Laura Cavanaugh had the privilege of serving as host and emcee.
The non-profit is celebrating 20 years of pairing adult volunteers with kids who need help improving their reading skills. Kids and adults read to one another--and kids can select books to take home.
This year S.M.A.R.T. is serving more than 900 kids in 32 different elementary schools in Jackson and Josephine county alone.
It's something organizers say is of vital importance. Kids who cannot read at grade level by the time they reach 3rd grade are four times less likely to graduate.
If you would like to learn about being a volunteer, you can log on to getsmartoregon.org or call (541) 734-5628.