Warner Robins Rotary Club promotes literacy with dictionary program

awoolen@macon.comJanuary 2, 2013 

BONAIRE -- The Warner Robins Rotary Club wants to ensure every child in Houston County receives a dictionary.

That is why they delivered about 3,000 dictionaries to third-graders in both public and private schools in December.

The mission started 12 years ago with giving the books to Title I schools, which are determined by the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch. After a few years, club members took a vote, and now all of the third-grade students Houston County public schools as well as Westside Christian Academy, Westfield School and Christ United Methodist School receive a dictionary of their own.

“It is one of the most exciting things we do in Rotary,” said Cindy Holmes, a past president.

She is the one who organized the project, which includes ordering the books, getting head counts from the Houston County Board of Education and getting the books delivered to the schools.

The group also has a partnership with Happy Hour to get a label put in each dictionary showing that it comes from the Warner Robins Rotary Club.

Funding for the books comes from various sources including member dues and fundraising.

One of Rotary’s main focuses is on literacy. This project matches up well with the goals of the group.

“Kids still need to learn the basics on how to look something up,” Holmes said.

One of those students is 8-year-old EmmaLaine Sisk.

She was very happy when she heard she was getting a dictionary, even though she has one at home. “I’ve always wanted to see the longest word in the English language,” EmmaLaine said.

Her favorite book is “Deep and Dark and Dangerous,” and she’s a self-proclaimed bookworm.

“I love reading,” she said.

It is this love that the Rotary Club hopes to foster in the children who receive the dictionaries.

Some of the first children to receive the dictionaries will be graduating from school this year, said Les Arnet, a Rotarian.

The group has given out close to 20,000 dictionaries.

“It started out really tiny, and it just has blossomed,” Holmes said.

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