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story.lead_photo.caption London Smith, 8, and Luke White, 5, look at a model of the solar system Tuesday during the Space Odyssey program at the Texarkana Public Library. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

A Space Odyssey program at the Texarkana Public Library allowed children's imagination to take flight Tuesday.

Altrusa International of Texarkana sponsored the program with a $2,500 grant they received from the Altrusa International Foundation Inc.

"Altrusa of Texarkana is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and moon walk by providing various space(-related) activities for local school children," said Tammi Drewery, Altrusa president.

Children were able to go inside an inflatable planetarium at the library and learn about space. There were also pictures taken from space displayed including pictures of Mount St. Helens, San Francisco Bay, the Grand Canyon, Mississippi River Delta and more.

Altrusa also purchased two virtual space helmets with a documentary about the first moon landing and a space timeline panel of events for the program.

As part of the Space Odyssey program, kids will launch rockets today outside the library and at 10 a.m. Saturday Altrusa will announce the top three winners from a space-themed writing contest for children in sixth to eighth grades. Winning entries will be published in the Texarkana Gazette.

Altrusans hope kids are intrigued to learn about a thrilling time in American history with the Space Odyssey program.

"I hope they get a sense of history and how exciting it was," said Linda Larey, an Altrusa member whose husband actually worked for NASA in landing and recovery where he was responsible for picking up the capsule and astronauts.

Texarkana Public Library director Jennifer Strayhorn said programs like this encourage kids to read during the summer.

"The value of this is to introduce children to different subjects they can explore through books. It piques their interest to things they wouldn't be exposed to otherwise. The Space Odyssey program is about our history. Mainly it serves to keep up their reading skills and introduce them to different things they can read about," Strayhorn said.

Improving education is one of many areas of focus for Altrusa.

"Altrusa is a service organization. Our primary interest is literacy and making our community a better place to live by offering service projects," said Peggy Burson, Altrusa member and past president. "This is a perfect project for Altrusa because it's focusing on education."

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