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Service Spotlight: The Leaders Readers Network

Even after our first phone call years ago, I felt like I’d known Chris McGilvery my entire life. Chris is the Founder and Volunteer Executive Director of The Leaders Readers Network, an incredible nonprofit based in Canyon, Texas.

I am also extremely fortunate to call Chris my friend. Chris has been an incredible mentor and supporter for my own work with The Smile Project and I feel so grateful to learn from him every day. I could write an entire blog about the influence he and his family have had on my life. Instead, please let Chris’s work speak for itself as you learn about the great work of The Leaders Readers Network (formerly Give More HUGS).

Liz: Let’s start in true Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”

Chris: Happiness is being there for one another and showing up for the good and challenging times through and through.

Liz: Tell me about your project.

Chris: The Leaders Readers Network believes in empowering educators through literacy through all. Here’s a snapshot overview of each of our programs.

Student Ambassador Project

Students dive into their leadership while impacting children’s lives with access to books at a Title 1 School. Click here to sign up!

Teacher Ambassador Project

Teachers collaborate to empower their school communities to grow leaders and readers through impactful service projects. Click here to sign up!

BookShare or Backpack Project

Help provide brand new books with inspirational messages and/or school supplies for students at Title 1 Schools. Click here to volunteer!

Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?

Chris: Our teachers, students, and community members who volunteer with us are the driving force to help change lives, one student and teacher at a time. Throughout each school year, The Leaders Readers Network empowers teachers and students to implement service projects to support education equity and literacy for all. We empower teachers and students to work together to provide brand new books, school supplies, mentorship, and leadership development, and encouragement to students at underfunded schools. We are proud of The Leaders Readers Network of teachers, students, and community members because we are working together to grow leaders and readers across Texas and the United States.

Liz: What does service mean to you?

Chris: Service means:

Giving of yourself to help others

Opening your heart to listen

Being there when someone needs you

Taking the time to volunteer

Making a difference

Liz: How can people get involved?

Chris: The Leaders Readers Network projects are simple and impactful. Students and teachers empower their school communities to take part in service projects that help promote literacy while growing leaders and readers. We invite students, teachers, community volunteers, and donors to check out our projects. If you have any questions, or would like to participate in or support any projects, please email

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn or visit our website to donate or learn more.

Liz: Do you have any advice to leave us with?

Chris: If you have a dream, go for it. Work hard, learn from your mistakes, pull yourself back up, and go for it!

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