Elks use grant to start dictionary project

We are Arlington-Fairfax Lodge #2188, and are located on Route 50 just west of I-495 (the western side of the Beltway) in Northern Virginia, part of the DC Metropolitan Area. Last year, we used $1,000 of the Grand Lodge Gratitude Grant to give around 550 dictionaries (Title: A Student’s Dictionary, which is recommended by the Grand Lodge Youth Activities Committee) to local elementary schools. We gave around 550 dictionaries to third graders at Springfield Estates, Forestdale, Parklawn, Keene Mill, and Bucknell Elementary Schools. They are labeled inside, along with our Elks Lodge logos, with a place for the students to put in their names and claim ownership. For the most part, the dictionaries were given to the students at one occurrence in the school cafeterias. The students and teachers were thrilled to be part of the program, and the kids were excited and grateful. It was really uplifting to see how much the kids and teachers enjoyed receiving the books. This is definitely one of those charitable programs that reach out to the community and make us proud to be Elks.

This year, we just received $2,000 from the ENF, and plan to double the number of schools, probably expanding the program to 12 or 13 schools. The Fairfax County School System (FCPS) is huge, and has well over 100 elementary schools in seven geographical clusters. To give dictionaries to all the schools would take around $20,000 and an army of people to deliver them, so we will stick to our program as best we can, looking for schools with kids whose families cannot afford to buy these books.

I plan on calling the schools we donated to last year to see if they want to continue to participate. Once I get confirmation, I will go to the schools this August to firm up the program and see if they can put some dates down for donations next fall. We would prefer to deliver the dictionaries in September, and especially in October, Noah Webster’s birth month.