Elks Lodges offer ‘define intervention’

 When Mica has to look up a word, she finds a dictionary that belongs to somebody else.

`My parents have one and I use them at school,` the 8-year-old said. `But this one`s different.`

At Carson Street Elementary, the third-grader, along with her entire class, each received a dictionary from the Torrance Elks Lodge and the Ladies of the Elks on Thursday.

`We are very excited,` school Principal Martin Leon said. `Third-grade is crucial. There is lots of writing and, in order to write, (students) need a dictionary.`

Flipping through the book, readers will not only find definitions but biographies of U.S. presidents, pictures explaining how to read the sign language alphabet and Braille, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and a description of countries and each planet in the solar system.

`This is the first time we`ve had someone donate dictionaries to us,` Leon said. `Students can use these throughout their educational careers.`

For the past three years, the Elks and Ladies of the Elks have purchased dictionaries from the nonprofit organization called The Dictionary Project.

The project, which was started by Mary and Arno French, has been helping children with their reading, writing and creative thinking skills since 1995.

The local Elks mainly distribute books within the Torrance Unified School District. But the group has branched out to help Los Angeles Unified and private schools in Torrance and Harbor City as well.

The lodge raises money for the dictionaries through charity events, raffles and business donations. The money not only goes toward purchasing dictionaries, but also to charities at the local, state and national level.

`By the end of this school year we`ll have distributed 2,800 books,` said Scott Paine, secretary of the Elks Lodge.

In the past two years, the club has distributed nearly 7,000 books.

In addition to supplying dictionaries, the group also hands out bookmarks and `Bee Drug Free` coloring books.

`You`d think it was Christmas,` said Rosie Abreu of the Ladies of the Elks. `They are so excited.`

Paine knows the importance of owning a dictionary.

`This dictionary will carry (children) throughout their education,` he said. `This is a gift.`

The third-graders at Carson won`t have to ask permission to use a dictionary anymore.

`I won`t borrow the dictionary from my sister,` Mica said. `I have my own.`