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Reading celebrated at breakfast with Santa

The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc Seta Eta Omega chapter and the city council’s Women and Youth Services committee sponsored the annual Reading Is Fundamental Breakfast with Santa Saturday morning at the Carl Morgan Convention Center.

The room was filled with holiday cheer for the kids and their families who came. More than 100 people were in the convention center to hear Christmas stories, sing carols and meet Santa Claus.

RIF is the nation’s largest literacy non-profit which strives to ensure all children have the ability to read and succeed. According to their data, “34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills needed to learn how to read.”

Nancy Sewell, who is the RIF coordinator, was just as excited as the kids at the breakfast. The RIF breakfast is just one of the AKA’s service projects that helps the local community. This is the twenty-fifth RIF breakfast in Selma.

“We try to instill in children the love for books and reading at an early age,” Sewell said. “Hopefully and prayerfully, they’ll become life-long readers.”

The children were free to select a book of their choice to take home from the event. The money raised to purchase the books was raised by the city of Selma, Dallas County and the sorority, according to Sewell.

“We are giving the gift that really enhances knowledge. The gift that motivates reading. The gift that hopefully unlocks knowledge and wisdom,” Sewell said. “That’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.”

The City of Selma and Dallas County Commissioners also collaborated with the AKA’s to support their event. Mayor Darrio Melton came to the breakfast and read “Eight Jolly Reindeer” to the kids.

“I think it’s very important for us to understand that this is the foundation for any success in life,” Melton said. “Not just being able to read, but being able to comprehend impacts our lives from childhood all the way up to adulthood. Today is very significant for Mrs. Sewell and the organization here which is pushing and promoting reading. I think it’s something we should do continuously throughout the year.”

According to Melton, there is great value in promoting literacy during the holidays instead of focusing just on presents.

“We talk about the gift of giving during this season, and what better gift to give,” Melton said. “Books are things that will forever impact our lives, where toys will leave us at different stages in life. What we learn from reading and comprehending will always be a part of us, so I think it’s very significant during this holiday season to promote things that will be of substance to our kids.”

Carolyn Burden, 48, brought her 4-year old grandson Jacob Willoughby to the RIF breakfast so that he could get his picture with Santa and pick up a new book.

“If you don’t read, you don’t learn, and reading is fundamental,” Burden said. “I brought him also to see Santa Claus and to have a good time. It’s not only just fun for the kids, it’s fun for everybody.”

Zyquarvion Williams, 9, and his family were also excited to be at the RIF breakfast. Williams said he likes to read so he can get good grades. His mother, Angelica Williams, was in line with Zyquarvion and his 5-month old brother Zamaragee waiting to get a picture with Santa.

“I wanted them to enjoy the breakfast with Santa, take a picture with Santa and receive the free books,” Angelica said.

Before the kids got a chance to pick out a book to take home, they were entertained by The Sisters of Kuumba. Abayomi Goodall and her partner Olmeca Rich read Christmas stories and sang Christmas carols that everyone in the room sung along to.

The giving spirit of the RIF breakfast was lifted by the Christmas cheer. RIF chairperson Melinda Page said that the holiday season brings a special meaning to the event.

“It’s a time for joy, love and a time for giving. It’s a time to build up the spirit of the kids, and show love to them,” she said. “This is a special time that we try to give and show that we care and we’re supportive of their learning and training.”