By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

Reaching back into the classroom, retired Killeen teachers handed out about 850 books to children Monday at Ira Cross Elementary School.

The Killeen Retired Teachers Association purchased the new books at the Scholastic Books warehouse near Waco at a vastly reduced price and made the delivery to the Killeen school.

One by one, teachers brought their students into the school library, where the retired teachers set up books according to grade level and watched as the students chose a book to keep.

Nine retired teachers planned to hand out a book to every child at the school, leave enough for those who were absent and give one to each teacher.

With the younger students, the retirees leaned down to write the child's name inside their book on a nameplate to label the volume as their own.

Danny Hefner, a retired Ellison High School teacher, said the group typically makes two deliveries a year, choosing a different school each time.

On Monday at Ira Cross, the group met in an assembly with the whole school and explained their purpose and encouraged children to make reading a lifelong habit.

They presented a book called "Hooray for Reading Day" to principal Cassandra Spearman, who read the book to the students.

Teacher retiree groups across Texas and the United States take part in the effort to put new books in the hands of children.

"Getting as many books in the children's hands as possible is the goal," said retired Killeen teacher Anita Holmes.

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