By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT TOWNSEND — Grant Street Elementary School third-graders got a special treat Thursday when the Sunrise Rotary Club presented free dictionaries to each student as part of its literacy efforts.
“We give these beautiful, illustrated dictionaries to every single third-grader in Jefferson County,” said club member Kathie Raab to a class before handing out copies of the American Heritage Children's Dictionary.
“We want to help you to learn how to read and how to spell, and these books are like encyclopedias. They are really cool.”
More than 200 dictionaries are distributed each year at an approximate cost of $11 each.
The club gets a better deal than the standard $19.95 price.
The kids get very excited to receive their books, Raab said.
Many have seen the ones given to older brothers and sisters in prior years, and they happily anticipate receiving theirs when they become a third-grader.
Each book has a nameplate with the recipient's name and the Port Townsend Sunrise Rotary logo, along with a letter to the child's parents to explain the book's origin.
Raab said the club visits every public and private school in the county to deliver the dictionaries.
They also seek out any home schooled third-graders to give them one as well.
Raab said that promoting literacy is an emphasis point for Rotary International, and the Rotarians who go on the distribution runs tell the students about the service projects of Rotary International, like the eradication of polio and about the youth exchange program.
While kids use digital information sources, the dictionaries are an effective learning tool “because they really like having something they can hold in their hands,” Raab said.
The venture is subsidized by the “Running of the Balls” fundraiser, which takes place at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17, right before the Rhododendron Festival parade.
During the fundraiser, numbered golf balls purchased by individuals are released at the top of the hill on Monroe Street and roll down about three blocks to a catch area.
The ball sponsorships sell for $5 each, but for $20, the buyer gets an extra “free” ball.
The first-place winner gets $1,000, second place gets $500 and third place gets $250.
Ten percent of the gross proceeds are paid to the Rhododendron Festival Committee, and the remainder of the profit goes toward the dictionary project.
Tickets matching the numbered balls can be purchased from any member of the Port Townsend Sunrise Rotary Club.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.