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HUNTINGTON — Highlawn Elementary School students got a special treat Tuesday afternoon in the form of books and blankets.

“Snuggle and Read” is a program in its eighth year at the elementary school, where volunteers from the United Methodist women’s group at Community of Grace Church in Huntington provide blankets and Read Aloud West Virginia provides books to give to students.

“We adopted Highlawn Elementary because it was in our neighborhood,” volunteer Linda Beaver said. “We decided we would come one day a year and make it a big day. Different members of the community, from the mayor to the fire chief, have come and read to each classroom.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Beaver helped prepare tables full of books for the students to choose from and take home. They also got to pick out their own blanket. Beaver is a regular classroom reader at Highlawn Elementary, but the pandemic has kept her out of classrooms this year.

However, they were able to pre-record book readings that were played for the students while they huddled together under blankets in the classroom. It was different from what would normally occur, but Beaver said she’s thankful the program was able to resume after missing the chance a year ago.

“We’ve been coming here to the library and getting videoed so the children can watch someone read to them virtually in their classrooms,” Beaver said, adding that volunteers this year included Huntington firefighters, basketball players and church members.

Principal Robin Harmon was appreciative of Beaver for coordinating the event, and said the book and blanket giveaway would be something students remember for years to come.

“The students love it,” Harmon said. “They go out of there with a smile on their face, a book and a blanket. It gives them encouragement to read, and a lot of these kids don’t have books at home. A lot of these kids will treasure the books they take home now as adults.”

Luke Creasy is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @LukeCreasy or reach him by phone at 304-526-2800.

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