Volunteerism inspires multi-generational engagement

Martha ConradtJan. 22, 2020

Michael Lee, a Hallmark artist, became a Lead to Read KC Reading Mentor at Longfellow Elementary in 2018. Michael’s daughter London was inspired by his volunteerism, and she too wanted to help students in our program. 

Together, they decided to use proceeds from Michael’s booth at the 2019 Hallmarket, the Hallmark art festival, to purchase books for Lead to Read KC students at Longfellow. Michael drew caricatures of attendees, and London, an eighth grader, helped staff the booth. The father-daughter team raised hundreds of dollars.

“This was such a great opportunity for me to work together with my daughter and do something fun for the kids at Longfellow Elementary. London and I were both on a mission to help get books into the hands of the kids that told entertaining stories that would capture their imagination and give them a lifelong love of reading. And don’t forget superhero comic books too!” Michael Lee, Reading Mentor 

Michael spoke with Ms. Bhakta, second grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary, to see what books her students would enjoy most in their classroom library. She suggested a variety of books—everything from classics by Dr. Seuss to “Say Something”, an empowering picture book published in 2019.

London and Michael went shopping and purchased dozens of books for the classroom libraries in both second grade classes. Michael delivered the books during a Lead to Read KC reading session. The students and teachers were thrilled to receive so many brand new books! 

“I am so grateful for Michael Lee and his daughter’s donation to Second Grade at Longfellow Elementary. I have struggled to find books that are of high interest and on level for my students; however, with this donation my kids are becoming active readers along with their Lead to Read Buddies! Thank You!” Priya Bhakta, Second Grade Teacher, Longfellow Elementary

Michael Lee shares the book donation with Lead to Read KC students at Longfellow Elementary.


Building community is an extension of building literacy. On behalf of Lead to Read KC and our students and teaching partners at Longfellow Elementary, many thanks to Michael and London!  

Want to learn how you can support Lead to Read KC’s program at one of our partner schools? Contact Pauly Hart. 

Want to become a Lead to Read KC Reading Mentor? Learn more.