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Landstar helping kids learn and smile through tutoring program

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Rhonda Hall has worked at Landstar in Rockford for the last 21 years.

She is the help desk supervisor at the transportation solutions provider but it's not her only responsible for the company.

Hall also leads Landstar's tutoring program which began as a way for the company to "give something back to the community."

"We feel that reading is really super important so we decided to contact local schools that were close by our facility," Hall said.

Landstar's efforts landed at Riverdahl Elementary School.

Over 700 students attend the K-5 school and Landstar employee's join them in the classroom every week, spending their lunch reading with kids.

School administrators appreciate the time Landstar puts in to help them better reach their students.

"They fill holes that we don't have enough staff to fill so by them coming in and volunteering their time, those kids that desperately need that extra help get that help reading," Riverdahl Elementary assistant principal Monica McWilliams said.

At the beginning of the year, testing is done to assess the availability of Landstar workers.

They are then paired with students based on their availability.

It develops into a strong relationship between tutor and student which the school finds just as valuable as the tutoring itself.

"They really do take the time to try and help the kids. They will ask how the kids are doing," McWilliams said.

"They are invested in the kids all the way and Rhonda is a big part of that."

Thanks to Hall's leadership, Landstar's partnership with Riverdahl has expanded well beyond just reading with kids.

The company provides prizes for the school's raffle events, donated resources for a before school program and bought adapters for teachers to link their iPads to whiteboards in the classroom.

Ultimately, Landstar's help and donations raises close to $3,000 each year for Riverdahl Elementary.

"We found out there were other things they needed from the community and we have worked with them to try and set aside those needs," Hall said.

Landstar's charity culminates with buying every kid in the school a new book around the holidays.

"The kids love it and it's one of those things that brings a great deal of satisfaction to all of the people who are participating in it," Hall said.

"There's nothing better than the joy on their faces when we hand the books out."

The kids aren't shy in their happiness either.

They regularly send thank you cards to Landstar for taking the time to see them.

"It just makes us all feel good. We're contributing something but we're getting probably more than we feel like we give to it," Hall said.

When sifting through the piles of cards, many of end the same way.

"Sincerely, Your Friend" and then the child's name.

It shows the bond that forms through this partnership and how the kids are truly impacted by it.

While it is a full team effort, and Hall will be the first to emphasize that point, leaders at Riverdahl acknowledge how much work she individually puts in to lead this charitable charge.

"Whatever they can provide, she will find a way to fund raise for it and manage to get that group effort from Landstar," McWilliams said.

"We're glad she does what she does because without her we would have a huge whole to fill."

Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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