CHARLOTTE, N.C. Do you have time to spare? What if you could change a life? Would you make time?

Leslie Bridger decided she had an hour each week to spend with a child. For months, the UnitedHealthcare Analyst has left work, turned off her phone, and sat with a 9-year-old girl.

I have come to learn more about her family and her life and how difficult it must be for parents who don't speak English to assist with homework and reading, said Bridger.

The 24-year-old is part of Project 1000, the United Way's program that aims to put 1,000 mentors, tutors and readers in schools to work one-on-one with kids like Santos.

But Project 1000 is in need of volunteers. Right now, only 200 people have volunteered for the program, and with summer approaching, the participating agencies need more help.

Even one hour can make a difference in a child s life, said Jerri Haigler, United Way s vice president of education, engagement, and communications.

She points to studies that show at-risk kids are more likely to fall behind in the summer months, if they don t have support in reading and math.

I just encourage people to give up one lunch break a week. It sounds huge and it is a huge responsibility, but it is so important to the children, and it s thrilling to see them light up and read at a more difficult level, said Bridger.

If you d like to learn more about how to get involved in Project 1000 and the agencies that the United Way partners with, click on this link:

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