We’re just a few volunteers away from meeting our goal of 500 coaches to help local children improve their reading skills. But more volunteers are needed in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

One month into the Arizona Dally Star’s recruitment effort, 492 Southern Arizonans have volunteered to coach kids in kindergarten through third grade who are behind their classmates in reading.

Also, donors have contributed $17,674 to Reading Seed, our partner in this campaign.

The Stocker Foundation has pledged to match donations up to $25,000, which is the goal for this campaign.

So far, most volunteers have opted to help kids in their own neighborhoods. But few live in the southwest part of town, where the need is greatest, said Tamara McKinney, program director.

Reading Seed has about 10 volunteers for Mission Manor Elementary in the Sunnyside district, but needs closer to 50, she said.

“It’s an incredibly high-need school,” she said.

The Arizona Daily Star’s campaign was spurred by the recent series on childhood poverty, available online at azstarnet.com/poverty.

The U.S. Census Bureau says one in three kids age 18 and younger in our city limits lives in poverty.

To volunteer or donate, go to literacyconnects.org/readingseed or call 798-0700.