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Senior Saints showing kids the wonder of reading

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FREEPORT (WREX) — "It just seems like the right thing to do."

Words spoken by both Diane Sorn and Donna Schopf about their visits to Immanuel Lutheran School.

Every other Friday, the two women walk into the school, touting a pile of books ready to read to the kids in Mrs. Cropper's kindergarten class.

They enjoy the bi-weekly ritual for two reasons.

The love of reading and love for the children.

"Instilling the love of reading in children this young is one of the things that I think is so important," Diane Sorn said.

"Just having an opportunity to spend time with them makes me feel a little bit lighter when I walk out of here."

Schopf gets the same joy out of reading to the kids, but there's an extra level of comfort for her.

She is volunteering in the same classroom she worked in for 20 years before retiring.

The full circle journey continues for Schopf in the class since the teacher, Moriah Cropper, is a former student of hers.

"It means a lot to me. I have my kindergarten aide here with me from when I was a kid so that's a very big blessing," Cropper said.

There's a family atmosphere at Immanuel Lutheran, fueled by the fact that both Sorn and Schopf, dubbed "Senior Saints," both have strong family ties to the school.

"My history is Immanuel. I was born into Immanuel Lutheran Church. My parents were members. I went to Immanuel Lutheran School which is now FACC on Chicago Avenue," Sorn said.

"My children went here and my husband went here to church and school. All three of my grandsons have came through and now I have great grandchildren here," Schopf said.

This is much more than just something penciled in on the Senior Saints calendar.

It's a way for them to stay connected to the family they've built at Immanuel Lutheran.

An opportunity they call a blessing.

"It's just a joy to be here and share their lives and watch them grow and with coming back year after year we're going to watch grow and graduate from this school hopefully," Schopf said.

The kids get just as much out of it too.

They see Sorn and Schopf as much more than just guest readers.

"It gives the kids a familiar face at church and out in the community. We love our grammas," Cropper said.

"The Grammas."

It's the name the two women are known by with the kids.

A title that helps drive the family feeling home for the Senior Saints of Immanuel Lutheran.

"I look forward to it and I love it when I walk in the door and they say 'Hi Gramma Donna.' It's just a wonderful feeling," Schopf said.

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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 or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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