Service Project:  Dictionaries for Third Graders
 
Do you remember the first book you ever owned? Do you remember the way it made you feel? Opening the cover, stumbling through the first lines as you felt a rush of exhilaration. The whole world was in front of you. Erie Rotarians experienced this feeling again when they distributed dictionaries to third-graders at local elementary schools. This project brings great fulfillment to our club as we enjoy distributing the dictionaries at a pivotal time, raising the funds, and seeing the development of leadership in our community through this project.
 
Now in its seventh year running, the Dictionaries for 3rd Graders project provides an individual, high quality, illustrated, hard cover dictionary to every third grader attending the six Erie Elementary Schools in our local district. The club purchases the dictionaries, provides them with Rotary labels, and then presents them to students in an assembly each year. The club distributed 452 dictionaries this year to eager students.
 
Third grade is a pivotal time for young students to explore. It serves as a fantastic opportunity to support the ongoing literary development skills of our youth. The ability to read and write well contributes to an active and healthy citizen. These youth will one day build the workforce and leadership of our communities.
Our community supports this mission of Rotary. Major fundraisers are held every year to raise the funds for the purchase of these dictionaries – all of which are well attended. The Erie Rotary Club engaged in activities such as drink sales at community events, Palisade Peaches and Pear sales, AmazonSmiles, and the King Soopers Neighborhood Rewards Program.  The funds raised from these programs help to support our missions in service leadership.
 
This example of service leadership is a cornerstone of Rotary’s purpose. It demonstrates to students the value of learning to read while giving them a chance to read to learn. We step into the classrooms and are reminded of our civic duties to our communities. Growing and nurturing future citizens is an integral part of our purpose.
 
It brought mixed emotions to our Rotarians when we heard that in many cases, this was the first book some of the students had ever owned. The thank you notes that we received from students were heartfelt, reminding us all of the rewarding opportunities for service leadership that exist in our communities.