Pulaski Elks Lodge #1827 delivers dictionaries to all third graders in Giles county

Five years ago, the Pulaski Elks Lodge made a promise to all third graders in the county- each third grader will receive a dictionary of their very own to keep and use through-out school. On August 19 and 21, 2013, members of the Pulaski Elks Lodge #1827 made good yet again on that promise by delivering dictionaries to every elementary school in Giles County. “We were able to purchase the dictionaries due to a grant our local Lodge received called the Elks Community Investment Program Gratitude Grant,” advised Jim Birdsong, Pulaski Lodge Secretary. “We reapply for this grant every year so we can keep on providing dictionaries for the kids.” The Dictionary Project was founded in South Carolina in 1995. This is a national non-profit organization which has the goal of providing every third grade student in the United States with a dictionary. By doing this, the project hopes “to have a positive impact on education in this country and empower children to become skillful communicators and resourceful leaders.” According to a recent study, 37 percent of American fourth graders have failed to achieve basic levels of reading proficiency, a frightening statistic considering the correlation between crime and unemployment levels and literacy rates. Given the urgency of the literacy problem in the United States, the Elks Grand Lodge made the Dictionary Project a national initiative during the 2004-2005 Lodge year. The Dictionary Project focuses on third graders because most schools teach dictionary skills in the third grade, and children of this age are also just beginning to make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. The Dictionary Project firmly believes that children need a dictionary to accomplish their schoolwork in a proper fashion and become effective users of the English language. As part of the bigger picture, the organization also believes that literacy is crucial to the economic success and prosperity of the country. Birdsong went on to state,“The Elks organization has a strong tradition of supporting and encouraging education. We provide thousands of dollars in scholarships every year to graduating seniors. However, we also know you have to start early in promoting strong students and so we deliver these dictionaries to the younger kids.” To date, nearly 2,000 dictionaries have been provided to Giles County third graders.