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Haynes enjoys volunteering her time with local students

April Haynes has spent every Tuesday since August helping students improve their reading skills.

“You can do it,” Haynes encourages them whenever students struggle with a word.

Haynes has a disability that forces her to walk with crutches, but has never let it stop her from sharing the love of reading.

“I felt like God placed me to help kids,” Haynes said.

Some of the kindergarten-age students act nervous when they first meet her, but she always tells them they can ask questions any time they want.

Haynes grew up in the Mississippi Delta with her family. Before she moved to Oxford in 2010, she volunteered at Delta Academy in Marks for about six years.

She continued to volunteer for two more years at the private school before she met Lafayette Elementary School teacher Amy Atchley. They are neighbors in Oxford. When Haynes found out Atchley was a teacher, she asked to help out.

More than six months later, Haynes is still spending several hours a week at LES.

Haynes comes in to class early in the morning.

“As soon as she gets there, they run and give her a big hug,” Atchley said.

The children do their morning stretches and sit on color-coded squares on the floor by their names.

Haynes takes turns reading to them and spending one-on-one time to encourage them to do better and to read more.

“I love the fact that the kids have individual time reading with her,” Atchley said.

Haynes said she grew up with a love of reading and wants to foster that love in other children. She also volunteers at a school in Batesville as well.

“I like to see to kids learn to read since I have a love of books,” Haynes said.

This month, the students spent classroom time making Haynes a handmade book of letters.

Each student wrote her a note of appreciation and told her how much they loved her. It is something Haynes will keep after those students move on to other grades.

“As much as anything, I just appreciate her time,” Atchley said.

Atchley said Haynes always shows up ready to help.

But for Haynes, it is not the appreciation that keeps her volunteering; it is the opportunity to serve.

“I like to help others,” she said.