Cindy Gruden shares a book with a room full of eager students
"Who likes football?"
The small hands shot up all at once as the kindergarteners were eager to show their excitement for the game.
"I know something else that's just as fun…reading!"
Kiersten Allen, wife of Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen, greeted a classroom full of kindergarten students at Cleveland Elementary early on the morning of December 9. Allen, along with fellow Women's Organization members Carol Brooks, Cindy Gruden, Barbara Muir, Danielle Simms, Dara Spires and Erica Steussie, visited the school to read to some students in an effort to promote literacy and a love of reading.
The women read to kindergarten and first-grade classes, all of which were filled with children eager to listen to the stories and talk about what they heard. The Buccaneer women asked the students questions about the stories afterwards in order to emphasize reading comprehension and understanding.
Simms, wife of quarterback Chris Simms, read the popular holiday book The Polar Express to a first-grade class, while Allen shared in the holiday spirit by reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to several kindergarteners.
Georgette Johnson, assistant principal of Cleveland Elementary, expressed her gratitude for the Women's Organization who came out to support the literacy efforts of the school.
"Any time someone calls and wants to come down, we welcome the opportunity for any volunteerism that we can receive in the school," said Johnson. "Most of our children don't have a lot of experiences in their young lives, so whenever we have the opportunity to have someone who wants to come in and volunteer to work with our students, especially with literacy projects, we're always excited."
The Buccaneer women were honored to be able to serve as a positive influence for the students, while also having fun reading the stories.
"The kids love it when we read," said Gruden. "They're so excited, and they all want to raise their hands and ask 10 questions. We just love being here and sharing with the kids."