Rotary Club hands out dictionaries to local third-graders, Robb: ‘It is wonderful to see how happy they are just to get their own dictionary’

ARTHURDALE — Third- grade students across the county received dictionaries from the Rotary Club of Kingwood on Wednesday.

“This is the eighth year we have done this,” Rotary Club member Bob Meissner said. “We have been able to provide hundreds of dictionaries to children throughout the county.”

Retired teacher and Rotary Club member Ann Robb, along with Rotary member Sam Hess, passed out dictionaries to West Preston students.

Robb pointed out special features in the dictionaries, including the longest word — a type of amino acid. The students reacted with “Wow” when they saw the length of the word.

“There is also sign language in the back so you can practice and learn a new language,” Robb told the students.

Murmurs from the students quickly turned into a low roar as they started to practice signing.

“It is wonderful to see how happy they are just to get their own dictionary,” Robb said. “It is something that is their own.”

The Rotary Club gave out 73 dictionaries at West Preston and gave out 360 dictionaries county-wide to the third-graders this year.

Rotary Club member Dennis Lusin said it spent about $800 this year on the project, plus the time it took members to distribute the dictionary to the eight schools.

“It is a worthwhile and extensive project,” Lusin said.

Lusin said the dictionary distribution is part of a larger nationwide project called Dictionary Project.

“The Dictionary Project takes places over the 48 contiguous states,” Lusin said. “We were looking for a community project that would directly affect younger people when we came across this project.”

Lusin said one of the club’s members, who was a physician at Preston Memorial Hospital at the time, told the Rotary about the project.

“We just thought this was a great way to help the school children in the area,” Lusin said.

According to The Dictionary Project website, the project began in 1992 in Savannah, Georigia, when Annie Plummer gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home.

Each year she continued to give the dictionaries and raised money to help give more books. Over her lifetime, she raised enough money to buy 17,000 dictionaries for children in Savannah.

Since The Dictionary Project’s implementation in 1995, over 18 million children have received dictionaries because thousands of people saw the same need in communities all over the United States.

Lusin said the Rotary Club distributes the dictionaries in Preston County, but different organizations all over the country distribute in their local areas.

“This isn’t just a Rotary Club project,” Lusin said. “Many other organizations across the country also participate and distribute hundreds of thousands of dictionaries to third-graders across the country yearly.”

Robb said she really enjoys handing out the dictionaries to the students.

“As a retired teacher, it is nice to see their eyes light up and smile when they are given a book,” Robb said. “It gives you hope for the future.

“For many of the students, this may be the first book that is their own. Just hearing their words of thanks makes it worthwhile.”

The “thank you” to Robb and Hess came in a big shout before students thanked them individually as they left the West Preston cafeteria.