Some service projects take time to show results. But when the Houghton Rotary Club dropped off dictionaries to third-grade students, the benefits were clear immediately.
"The enthusiasm these third graders showed was incredible, whether we were looking up the longest word in the English language, reviewing the table of Presidents of the United States or finding the definition of ‘service,’" said Houghton Rotary Club member Debbie Bradford. "They were so eager. And that is rewarding."
On Jan. 24, the Houghton Rotary Club gave out free dictionaries to third-grade students in Houghton, Stanton Township, Adams Township, Chassell and Elm River – about 170 in all.
Bradford, who chairs the dictionary operation, said the local program is part of The Dictionary Project, a nonprofit program that in its 16 years has grown to include various service organizations and about 20 countries.
One of Houghton’s Rotary Club members found out about the program online; they’ve now participated for three years.
The Dictionary Project traditionally targets third-grade students: As The Dictionary Project puts it, it’s the age when a student "transitions from learning to read to reading to learn."
The best part, Bradford said, is "that every child has a dictionary that will carry them through the 12th grade and beyond."
The dictionaries, which cost about $1.70 each, include a nameplate personalized for each student. The dictionary also includes facts such as the space system, the list of U.S. presidents and, on the back page, the longest word in the English language, which takes up about 20 lines (hence its lack of inclusion here).
"The kids love it," said Rotary member Ron Helman. "They go to that right away, and show everyone the longest word."
Volunteering Rotarians were Ron Helman, Jon Julien, Ken Dillinger, Jamie Markham, Bob Sharkey, Trisha Kappler, Anil Jambekar, Mari Buche, Dallas Bond, Fred Gaff, Debbie Bradford, Bill Briggs, Elden Johnson, Susanna Brent, Cindy Enderby and Mark Lambert.
For more information, go to www.dictionaryproject.org.