Rotary Club distributes dictionaries

 During my senior year of high school, I worked at IBM`s Boca Raton plant as a secretarial intern. This was before answering machines, let alone voicemail.
In those days, IBM had a message center where managers` phones were routed when they were out of the office. One of my duties was to fill in for the message center operator. When the phones were quiet and there was nothing else to do, I occupied my time reading. The dictionary.

My dictionary appreciation started years earlier at home. Every time I asked Mama the spelling or meaning of a word, she said, `Look it up.` My favorite high school graduation present was an unabridged dictionary.

This past school year, the Belle Glade Rotary Club sowed the seeds of lexophilia for more than 400 third-graders in Belle Glade.

According to club president Tony Walker, the parent organization Rotary International has made literacy a priority since 1986, and participates in several literacy-promotion efforts.

The Dictionary Project is one such program. According to, the idea for the project started in 1992 with one woman, Annie Plummer, who gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school near her home in Savannah, Ga. She continued this each year, raising enough money over her lifetime to buy 17,000 dictionaries for students in Savannah. The project caught the attention of others and grew, becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 1995.

Rotary International and other organizations and individuals partner with The Dictionary Project to give dictionaries to third-grade students. Last year, more than 2.4 million dictionaries were distributed nationwide, according to Walker. The ultimate goal is to give a dictionary to every third-grade student in the United States, an estimated 4.2 million.

The Belle Glade Rotary Club distributed their dictionaries to third graders at Belle Glade, Gove and Glade View elementary schools and Lakeside Academy.