Rotary Club gives gift of dictionaries

Two thousand six hundred third graders throughout Ogden and Weber school districts are cracking open brand new dictionaries thanks to the Ogden Rotary Club.

This is the 14th year the service club has participated in an international drive to deliver dictionaries to third-grade students.

Brent Parkin, president of the Ogden Rotary chapter, said the yearly event is a big local service activity for the club, whose members enjoy participating.

"The first year the response was so overwhelming, it’s now become our main emphasis," Parkin said.

That was evident Wednesday afternoon as members took time from their weekly meeting to unload boxes and boxes of dictionaries and insert a sticker on the inside and outside covers of the books. The sticker included the "four-way test" that the Rotary Club asks all its members as they join the group and is the mantra by which it keeps its members.

They want the students to ask those questions not only as they look through their dictionaries, but as they live their life: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? Is it beneficial to all concerned?

Also included on the sticker are other community sponsors that help buy the books, which cost between $6,000 and $7,000.

Rotary member Cathy Labatte smiled as she busily unloaded dictionaries and stuck stickers on the books.

"It is one of the most rewarding projects we do," she said. She enjoys doing the local projects but noted the group participates in international service projects also.

Rotary members will spend Thursday and Friday delivering books to all the schools in the area. The Mount Ogden chapter will also deliver about 1,000 more books in the next couple of weeks.

Parkin had a detailed list of Rotary members who will deliver books to the schools. For many, that is the best part of the experience.

"Some of these kids don’t even own a book, so for them it is very exciting," Parkin said.

The book isn’t just a dictionary, but has up-to-date facts about all the United States presidents, the states and the whole world. Many of the members point the students to the back of the book where the facts are, because that’s what they are drawn to.

Parkin said the book is written so third-graders can understand and has a bit larger type, so it’s easy to read and not overwhelming.

They choose third-graders because it helps them prepare for research they will do in the next few years.

Students also receive a letter from the Rotary Club, explaining the reasons behind giving out the dictionaries and what they are for.

Thank-you notes and letters come in by the hundreds from the students once they receive their dictionaries, another rewarding part of the service project, Parkin said.

"They draw us pictures and say thank you, and it is really neat to see that," Parkin said. The students are always very grateful upon receiving the books as well. "It is very enjoyable," he said.

Labatte agreed. Although she isn’t in the delivery group this year, it is her favorite part.

Parkin believes the group will continue with the tradition of donating dictionaries and hopes the students look forward to receiving the books.