Hayfield Grange dictionary project

A dictionary is perhaps the first and most powerful reference tool that a child should own. Its usefulness goes beyond the spellings, pronunciations, and definitions its lists; it is a companion for solving problems that arise as a child develops his or her reading, writing, and creative thinking abilities. Students benefit from an increased self-reliance and resourcefulness inspired by the maxim "look it up". Teachers benefit by knowing that their students have consistent access to a tool for homework and in-class explorations. We emphasize the importance of using a dictionary to make sure that all words are spelled correctly.

The program is an opportunity for children to expand their vocabulary and for many to actually own a dictionary. A strong vocabulary is an essential tool for gaining knowledge. The limits of an individual’s language are the limits of his world. A large vocabulary does not guarantee success, but a small vocabulary limits the use that a person can make of his or her natural abilities. Low vocabulary decreases the effectiveness of inborn gifts in any civilization.

This project began in Charleston, South Carolina in 1995, and was founded by Mary French. In 1999 Mrs. French, along with a board of directors and a network of volunteers, raised enough money to put dictionaries in the hands of every public school third grader in the state of South Carolina. Over 14.1 million children have received a dictionary from volunteers who have participated in the Dictionary Project to provide a dictionary for the third grade students in their community each year, so that children can enjoy the benefits of a large vocabulary. The Dictionary Project proves the essential tool a child needs for a quality education. A child cannot do his or her best work without a dictionary. In 2009-10,2.4 million children received a dictionary for their own personal use. Thus far for the 2009-10 school year 36,144 children have received dictionaries with 1,752 of those being presented by Granges across PA.

Hayfield Grange, along with the following organizations–Cambridge Springs Kiwanis Club, Covenant Lodge #473, John Hotchkiss’s Barber Shop, Saegertown Social & Service Club, Saegertown Women’s Improvement Club, Spa Dental Center, Dr. Marie Crocker; State Farm Insurance Company, Gene Schlosser, Agent; Townville Lions Club and the Townville Pierian Club–have donated funds to purchase dictionaries for each third grade student in the Penncrest School District and Open Door Bible Baptist Church. Volunteers placed labels in the 218 dictionaries and will be delivering the dictionaries to each of the schools making a presentation to each of the third grade classes. This is the eighth year of the project, and during that time 2,254 dictionaries have been presented by Hayfield Grange and other sponsoring organizations. Many of the above organizations have also been sponsors for the eight years of the program.

Hayfield Grange has been involved in many community service projects over the years and looks at new projects each year within the community. Some of the projects in the past have been providing hats, gloves and mittens to the Saegertown Pre-School at Christmas, in conjunction with the Saegertown Women’s Improvement Club, providing non-perishable food products for the Saegertown United Methodist Church’s Food Pantry, packing TLC boxes at Christmas in conjunction with the Hickernell United Methodist Church, for children who may not have a Christmas, distributing used greeting cards to area nursing homes for craft projects as well as new Christmas cards for use by residents, funds to Hospice, Women’s Services of Crawford County, and St. James Haven, providing Hospital Dolls for children requiring surgery, co-sponsoring the "Sowing The Wind" live farm safety program by the Fulton Theater, financial support of the Dairy Complex at the Crawford County Fairgrounds, sponsoring the 55 Alive Safe Driving Course, providing food items for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Community dinners at the Christian Association, and financial support for the NW PA Autism Outreach Center. This year’s pie sale proceeds, held at the Saegertown Community yard sale, will be donated to the John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and Crawford County Hospice at the November 6th Thanksgiving-Christmas Dinner at Smith’s Country Gardens.

Michele Tau serves as Chairman of the Community Service Committee. Members from the Grange and Townville Lions Club assembled dictionaries for delivery to the schools.