Hayfield Grange Dictionary Project equips area third-graders

With help from numerous area groups and individuals, the Hayfield Grange Dictionary Project has again presented dictionaries to hundreds of local third-graders — the 10th year for the local program.

The Dictionary Project began in Charleston, S.C, in 1995 and was founded by Mary French. In 1999, 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 ¡n South Carolina. More than 18 million
children have received a dictionary since implementation of the program, which has since spread across the country.

The Dictionary Project provides the essential tool a child needs for a quality education, Hayfield Grange officials noted. Hayfield Grange, along with Cambridge Springs Kiwanis Club; Covenant Lodge 473; John Hotchkiss’ Barber Shop; Saegertown Women’s Improvement Club; Spa Dental Center, Dr. Marie Crocker, State Farm Insurance Company, Gene Schiosser, agent; Townville Lions Club and the Townville Lions Club have donated funds to purchase dictionaries for each third-grade student in PENNCREST School District and French Creek Valley Christian School.

Volunteers from Covenant Lodge 473, John Hotchkiss’ Bather Shop, Saegertown Women’s Improvement Club, Townville Lions and Hayfield Grange placed labels in the 241 dictionaries and will deliver the dictionaries to each of the schools, making a presentation to each of the third-grade classes. This is the 10th year of the project and during that time22,785 dictionaries have been presented by Hayfield Grange and other sponsoring organizations. Many of the above organizations have also been sponsors For the 10 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 Saegertown preschoolers 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, St. James Haven and John Kanzlus Cancer Research Foundation; providing hospital dolls for children requiring surgery; 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 Family and Community Christian Association; and financial support for the Northwest Pennsylvania Autism Outreach Center.

Kenneth Merritt serves as chairman of the Community Service Committee, with the 2012 Pennsylvania State Grange Community Service report taking first place. The annual report was selected as Best of Show and was forwarded to the National Grange for further competition. The following statement on
the Importance of dictionaries in children’s lives was submitted by Hayfield Grange.

“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 It 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.”