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FARMINGTON — Setting students on a path to becoming lifelong readers is the goal of a fundraising effort by the Rio Del Sol Kiwanis Club.

Kiwanis Club members are selling tickets for lunch or dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Farmington. Proceeds from the sale will go toward purchasing books for students at Apache Elementary School.

Kiwanis president Bob Lehmer said the goal is to collect enough money so each student can select a book to take home and keep as her or his own.

This is the first year for the project, and it is part of the centennial celebration for Kiwanis, Lehmer said.

"Hopefully, we'll raise enough money to buy additional books," he said, adding that extra books will be donated to the school library.

Apache Elementary serves kindergarten to fifth-grade students and is one of eight Title I elementary schools in the Farmington Municipal School District. The U.S. Department of Education defines a Title I school as having a high number or high percentage of children from low-income families. The department provides supplemental funding to Title I schools to meet state standards and educational goals.

Apache Elementary Principal Debbie Braff said Kiwanis officials approached her with the idea of donating books to the school library last spring. After reviewing the proposal, the decision was made to have each student receive a book.

"Our library has plenty of books, but a lot of our children don't have books at home. Any opportunity we have to get books home to our children, to actually own, we'll take," Braff said.

She added that statistics show that when children read at home or have a parent read to them, it improves academic performance. It is also common for children to share books with their siblings, she said.

"There's a sense of pride," Braff said.

Each ticket is redeemable for one 6-ounce sirloin or grilled chicken dinner, or a hamburger with one side and a nonalcoholic drink for lunch or dinner from Sundays through Thursdays until Oct. 15.

Tickets are $20 and available at Howard's Cleaners, 1601 N. Dustin Ave.; Apache Elementary School, 700 W. Apache St., and from any Kiwanis Club member. For more info, call Lehmer at 505-320-9305.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.

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