Group hands out dictionaries to Clawson third-grade students

 When Menachem Kniespeck, co-founder of the nonprofit group Operation: Kid Equip, calls school districts about giving them supplies, he often gets some hesitation on the other end of the line.

`You can hear they are waiting for some sales pitch,` he said. `But there`s no catch.`

Kniespeck, through donations from attendees at Motor City Connect`s Goals 2010 conference, is distributing dictionaries to every third-grader in Clawson Public Schools. He dropped off the dictionaries at Kenwood Elementary School on Jan. 22 and plans a similar drop-off at Schalm Elementary School on Jan. 29.

`These dictionaries are especially made and geared towards third-graders,` he said.

The dictionaries can be kept by the students and used through fifth-grade.

In general, Operation: Kid Equip helps collect school supplies including backpacks with pencils, crayons and other essential items for students that receive free and reduced lunches in the county.

`From our perspective, we do our best to help at-risk kids or (those who come from) low-income (homes),` Kniespeck said. `This is the best way we can attempt to reach everyone.`

Clawson Public Schools is the second district to receive the dictionaries. A similar drop was made for Ferndale Public Schools in January. Those donations were made by a group of female bloggers.

Kniespeck, a Royal Oak resident, said Motor City Connect picked Clawson as the destination for the dictionaries that cost a total of $350.

`This is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity,` said Superintendent Cheryl Rogers. `To have this kind of support from the community, we are very thrilled.`

She said given the financial crunch the district is in, they are extremely appreciative of the donation.

`The dictionaries are an extremely valuable tool,` Rogers said.

Kniespeck said they want to spread the program to other districts and are currently raising money to provide the dictionaries to every third-grade student in Hazel Park.

He said the group focuses on Oakland County students because although the county is perceived to be wealthy, there are 50,000 kids in the county on the free and reduced lunch program.

`Because of that belief (that the county is wealthy), the 50,000 kids of free and reduced lunches are often overlooked and underserved,` Kniespeck said.

For more information on Operation: Kid Equip, visit them online at

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