Rockbridge County's Maury River Middle School reads for feed

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) You expect to do a lot of reading at school, and teachers will do most anything to encourage their students to read even more.

At Rockbridge County’s Maury River Middle School, they’re going to “Read to Feed” as part of that encouragement. It’s a fundraiser for a charity that sends livestock to families in need around the world.

“One thousand books is our goal,” says Principal Billy Thomas.

That’s what they told the students at assemblies today, but the idea is not just to get in some reading. It’s to raise money to help others around the world.

It’s something that the group Heifer International – they spoke to the kids via Skype, explaining: “1.3 billion people around the world are living in extreme poverty.” – wants to change.

“And it’s great," says Susan Petriella, English Teacher and organizer of the program. "You can give a pig, you can give a goat, you can give a sheep. And it’s kind of cool, you know.”

And at Maury River Middle School, they’re going to contribute by reading.

“Where you keep track of the books that you read," Thomas told the students. "And you earn money for this organization.”

By getting pledges for every book read.

“And the Heifer International potential was great in the fact that we could combine, putting together our goals of being better readers with also helping people around the world with their hunger,” Thomas says.

“And becoming aware that there are a lot of people in the world who are less fortunate than they are and who do end every day hungry,” says Petriella.

That’s not to say the students have to be hungry. Their principal has a special reward for reaching that thousand-book goal.

“The class that gets the most books read in that time," Thomas promised the assembly, "Earns themselves a pizza party with all the fixin’s for lunch one day.”

A reward he’s actually eager to give.

“Who knows," he says. "We may be all eating pizza at some point.”