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Grange dictionary giveaway is a big hit with students

Deer lagoon Grange members Chuck Prochaska (left), Roxie Chamuller and Bob Jimenez join third-graders  Angel Reafs and Larsen Christiansen in showing off the new dictionaries at South Whidbey Elementary School on Thursday.  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Deer lagoon Grange members Chuck Prochaska (left), Roxie Chamuller and Bob Jimenez join third-graders Angel Reafs and Larsen Christiansen in showing off the new dictionaries at South Whidbey Elementary School on Thursday.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

Words were not only cheap, they were free as the Deer Lagoon Grange passed out nearly 100 dictionaries to third-graders at South Whidbey Elementary School on Thursday morning.

“They really appreciate it,” said Bob Jimenez, who has been in charge of the grange’s “Words for Thirds” giveaway for the past six years. “I’ve run into students years later who still have them.”

Jimenez was joined by grange members Chuck Prochaska and Roxie Chamuller in distributing the yellow paperback books with bright red letters proclaiming “The Best Dictionary for Students.” A dictionary for Spanish speakers was also available, and about a half-dozen of those were given away at the school.

The reference books were produced by Webster’s for the nationwide Dictionary Project, a non-profit program which has distributed more than 11.5 million copies throughout the United States.

Last year alone, more than 2.4 million dictionaries were passed out by service and community organizations such as the grange. Prochaska said more than 300 state organizations participate in the program every year.

Deer Lagoon Grange members also distributed dictionaries to third-graders at Coupeville Elementary School on Thursday, and plan to give the books away at South Whidbey’s private schools and to home-schoolers.

“It’s just the right age,” Chamuller said. “The kids are really getting into the meaning of words.”

Cheers greeted the trio as they pushed a cart loaded with boxes of dictionaries into Val Twomey’s third-grade classroom.

“I hope when I come to your high-school graduation, you’ll still have your dictionary,” Prochaska told the students.

The distribution was swift, if spirited and somewhat chaotic. “Take my picture!” was heard often as Chamuller recorded the event with her camera.

“I’ve been hoping to find ‘sports,’” said Angel Reafs, 8, when asked about the first word she planned to look up.

It took Larsen Christiansen, who will be 9 on Sunday, a couple of minutes to answer the same question.

“I have no idea,” he said at first, then added after a little contemplation, “I’m going to look up Italian things. I like Italy — it’s cool.”

Prochaska said the grange takes part in the program as part of its dedication to family, community and education.

He said that through the years almost every recipient of a dictionary has written a thank-you note to the grange.

“We have boxes full of them,” Prochaska said.

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