Thanks to Delta Air Lines, summer reading has taken on a whole new meaning. As part of the Greenpoint Y’s annual Literacy Day on July 9, 24 Delta volunteers and 150 campers spent an afternoon reading and learning about travel—global travel and multicultural experiences are this year’s camp theme, called “Amazing Race.”
“Events like this allow the employees to get involved working with local communities where our employees live, where our customers live and where we serve,” said Tricia Rumola, Delta manager of Community Affairs for Los Angeles and New York. “It’s important we give back.”
Nine classrooms at the Greenpoint Y Summer Camp Program at PS 84 were filled with high-spirited campers clad in Disney-themed costumes, as Literacy Day coincided with the camp’s dress-up day.
To welcome the Delta volunteers, the campers looked to their arts and crafts closet, making welcome signs, creating their own passports and even crafting an airplane out of a giant cardboard box—complete with Delta logo and colors.
In addition to reading favorite children’s books, “The Rough-Face Girl,” “From Head to Toe” and “Children Around the World,” with the Delta volunteers, campers prepared questions for their airline friends, including: are there gas stations in the sky for fuel? What happens if you run out of fuel? (Before a plane leaves they have to make sure they have enough fuel because there are no gas stations in the air); how many airports does Delta have? (12 hubs and 318 destinations, worldwide); and why do you have to turn off your phone? (The phone interferes with signals in the cockpit during takeoff and landing).
The Delta volunteers are part of Delta Air Lines’ “Force for Global Good,” an initiative that encourages the airline, Delta Air Lines Foundation and employees to donate time, energy and millions of dollars to a range of philanthropic causes, according to Delta’s website.
When asked why she volunteers, Sabrina Smith of Delta’s Performance Planning and Analysis department, said, “I enjoy working with kids, and I value education, especially literacy. I am excited to be part of an organization and cause that promotes that.”
Smith expected the campers to be shy, but was pleasantly surprised. “They were bubbly, energetic, curious and a lot of fun,” she said.
It seemed the volunteers got as much out of the day as the young campers. One volunteer, Nanette Egerton, hadn’t been around so many children since her own children (now grown) were in a classroom. “It was nice to spend time with the kids and answer their questions,” she said.
For Literacy Day, Egerton even brought along her son, Berchell, who is in his 20s.
“It’s important to show the next generation to give back,” she said. “It kind of humbles you.”
Plus, the campers may be able to relate to a younger volunteer.
For flight attendant and volunteer, Nick Herrera, volunteering is a way to clear his mind.
“I love kids,” he said. “They put a smile on your face. Reading and spending time with them makes you forget any problems you may have.”
YMCA’s annual Literacy Day is a way to raise awareness about the importance of reading, especially outside of the classroom and during the summer months. YMCA camps provide high-quality summer learning initiatives that give children many ways to improve reading and math skills, as well as a way to explore music, drama, art and sports.