Thousands of local elementary students were given a gift that keeps on giving. In the spirit of Service Above Self, its motto, local Rotarians from District 6890, divided local schools in order to distribute more than 24,000 dictionaries to local students. Brandon South Rotarians delivered more than 1,400 dictionaries itself to Dover, Symmes and Yates Elementaries. Dictionary project coordinator for the group, Linda Wright volunteered to coordinate with the schools in order to make the donations in person to the students. “I felt I wanted to get more deeply involved and this goes right to the heart of Rotary’s aims for literacy,” says Wright who owns the Cork & Olive store in the Lithia Crossings Stein Mart-anchored plaza on Lithia Pinecrest. “It was great fun going to the schools and the teachers and children all seemed so appreciative of the dictionaries.” Brandon South Rotarians received thank you letters, cards, pictures and messages of appreciation from the students who received the dictionaries. “Our teachers and students were very excited to receive this wonderful tool for learning,” said Dover Elementary principal Marie Caracciola. “I assure you, they will be well used!” Brandon South Rotary, in coordination with its parent district 6890, donated the dictionaries as part of the Dictionary Project, www.disctionaryproject.org, which started in 1995 and has lead to more than four million students receiving dictionaries. “Each year our 46 Rotary Clubs distribute approximately 20,000 dictionaries,” explains district representative Ed Odum. “The objective is to provide dictionaries to every 5th Grade student in our district, which covers Hillsborough, Highlands, Hardee, and Polk Counties.Many clubs have changed the gift to 4th grade classes, since that is the year they prepare for FCATs. The cost of the books alone is approaching $40,000 annually.” Dictionaries purchased through the program cost $1.70 per student and paid for by the District with Rotary dues. The project began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia gave 50 dictionaries to children at a school close to her home. She then began fundraising and gave more than 17,000 dictionaries to students. She passed away in 1999, but her project lives on and today, more than 7.9 million children have received dictionaries through the dictionaryproject.org, a nonprofit organization. Local Rotaries and Kiwanis service organizations have embraced the project and pass out the dictionaries each year. Brandon South Rotary meets at 12 noon Wednesdays at Buckhorn Country Club. For info visit www.brandonsouthrotary.org.