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Rotary Club has a way with words

Clintonville third-graders take home dictionaries in longtime club program

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Most people who drop a dictionary hope the heavy tome doesn't land on their toes.

Members of the Clintonville Rotary Club hope their annual Dictionary Drop will encourage literacy and help give youngsters in the neighborhood a good grasp of the meaning of words.

The first service project of the club, one undertaken before Clintonville Rotary officially was chartered, involves presenting a Webster's Dictionary to every third-grader in local schools, including public, private, charter and parochial, as well as some youngsters who are home-schooled, according to President Carole W. Tomko and Donna Leigh-Osborne, founding president and current chairwoman of the membership committee.

This year, club members plan to donate dictionaries to 533 students, Leigh-Osborne said.

That would bring the total in the four years the local club has been involved with the project to 2,249.

"This is our mission," Leigh-Osborne said. "Literacy and children's projects kind of go hand in hand."

"Our Dictionary Drop is part of our overall mission on literacy, which includes the sponsoring of Duckling Day with age-appropriate books purchased by Rotary, and our Family Island Book Project, which supports the building and filling of libraries at elementary school in the Bahamas," Tomko wrote in an email.

The dictionaries are acquired for distribution through the Downtown Rotary Club, the sponsor for the Clintonville chapter.

"Schools are very receptive and it's probably one of our most-rewarding service projects," Leigh-Osborne said. "The kids are surprised to see you when you come into the classroom. We sit down and talk with them about literacy and what the Rotary does, and this time of year we tell them to save the date for our Christmas tree lighting."

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