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CAUSE:Duo collects books for troops to read to kids on DVD

FOR A GOOD

Newport 8-year-old and mom have amassed 250 children's books and more than $2,000 for the United Through Reading program.

May 30, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

While "Uncle Dave" is away in Iraq, 8-year-old Adam Langevin of Newport Coast is doing all he can to boost the morale of outgoing soldiers and demonstrate his support for the troops, one book at a time.

Last April, Adam and his mother, Alisa Langevin, started collecting children's books and donations for the USO's United Through Reading program. A partnership with Family Literacy Foundation, the program provides deploying troops an opportunity to record a DVD of themselves reading a selected book, both of which are then mailed to their families.

So far, the duo has amassed about 250 books and more than $2,000.

"This is important because the family can watch the movie over and over while their mom or dad is at war and remember them all the time," Adam said.

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In addition to soliciting the support of family and friends, Adam signed on his Cub Scout pack at Our Lady Queen of Angels School, a local book retailer and his Tae Kwon Do studio. Newport Beach children's author David Giddings also donated 45 of his books to the cause.

As the twin sister of Army soldier Dave Nichols and as a mother, Alisa Langevin felt compelled to participate in United Through Reading, hoping to offer families a chance to "stay bonded" while a parent was away.

"If I were a departing parent, I think I would just feel like I wanted to leave this for my child to know that my presence was still in their life even though I'm not physically there," she said. "And I think it's equally important for the spouses to have that video."

Though Adam is only a second-grader, the gravity of the Iraq war has not escaped him.

"Let's say a mom or dad is sent to war and then they get shot and die, [the video] is the last thing their kids have of them," he said.

The Langevins first heard of the program through Adam's aunt, Terrie Reed, a volunteer at the USO center in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. With a flight departing for Iraq every afternoon, she said between 20 and 40 soldiers come to the Reading Room each day to record a DVD, and the center has served about 2,000 soldiers since it started the program in August.

"It's such a great program. You can't help but want to be involved," she said. "These soldiers couldn't be more grateful for what the USO does for them."

And the organizers at the center could not be more thankful for the help of dedicated contributors like Adam.

"I am amazed and impressed that a little boy in California is doing all this work even though he can't even see what we see every day," said Sherri Allen, volunteer coordinator. "It really shows how close we all are when it comes to how these men and women touch our hearts."

The Dallas/Fort Worth center offers a collection of hundreds of books for children of all ages on a variety of topics, and is just one of 35 international USO facilities offering the program, including those in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Germany.

For more information on United Through Reading, go to www.uso.com/whatwedo/specialprograms/unitedthroughreading.

HOW TO HELP

For more information, contact Alisa Langevin at rixfmly@hotmail.com. Monetary and book donations can be sent to P.O. Box 10065, Newport Beach, 92658 or dropped off at Jim Kwon Tae Kwon Do at 2612 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar.


  • JESSIE BRUNNER may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at jessica.brunner@latimes.com.

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