A wonderful gift started Thursday at a single school. The gift will last a couple of thousand kids for as long as they can read.
Volunteers from the Rock Hill Elks Lodge stopped at Mount Gallant Elementary School in Rock Hill, SC, and delivered dictionaries for every third grader. The donation is part of the club’s annual work with the national Dictionary Project, which in the past 15 years has given out more than 15 million dictionaries to school kids.
Today, there will be another school, and next week more Rock Hill schools and York schools, until more than 1,900 dictionaries are given out for kids to use at school, and take home, and keep forever. The Fort Mill Elks are working on giving to kids in that school district, too.
"There is no more important thing we can give a child than the gift of words," said longtime Rock Hill Elks member Mickey Brackett.
The third grade is chosen because it is considered the time after kids have learned to read, and begin reading to learn.
"Groups like ours find a way to help these kids with something like this, a dictionary, and the doors fly open for them for the rest of their lives," said Elks member Tim Boyette.
All the money for the dictionaries comes from Elks’ fundraisers and donations, and mirrors Dictionary Project efforts around South Carolina and the nation. Like all great ideas, this one started with a single woman in Savannah in 1992 and grew into a cause to give each third grader in the state a dictionary.
"Words are the keys to the car for reading and writing and understanding," is how Kenny Martin, current leader of the Rock Hill Elks, described it one time to a bunch of people who asked the question, "Why dictionaries?"
So Thursday it all started for this year, with four lucky 8-year-old kids from Mount Gallant accepting the first four dictionaries. The kids looked like the world they will soon be in charge of, all of them as smart as whips and eager to learn and filled with joy.
Na’Kayla grabbed her dictionary and started looking up words. John and Doryan and Trinity held on to theirs and read and searched and tried to beat the other one with the coolest words.
"Awesome," said Doryan.
Then the kids went back to class, armed with the best weapon they need in the battle to get ahead in life. A book filled with words and what those words mean.
On the cover of the dictionary is a picture of the Earth. The world. A world each kid should have a chance to change.
The Elks, Mickey Brackett and Tim Boyette, and their Elks wives, Carolyn Boyette and Jane Brackett, watched the kids walk down the hall back to class.
"If we help one of them dream and succeed, to make their mark in this world, we did something here today," Mickey Brackett said.
Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2011/09/23/3392299/elks-donate-1900-dictionaries.html#ixzz1Yo5BHJN4