HAMMOND | Third-grade students of Hammond elementary schools will once again have the opportunity to increase their vocabulary skills as volunteers from Hammond Rotary, Hammond Reads and the Telecom Pioneers distribute dictionaries to their classrooms.
These reference books are essential for students to excel, but many families in areas of the city are considered "low income" and are not able to afford their children this basic tool of education. This year that will change for at least 1,368 students, explains Nancy Machnikowski, a member of Hammond Rotary and Hammond Reads. Such a simple gesture can change a life forever, and with a little luck and a whole lot of effort some of these children will be taking those same books to college some day.
"The best part is when the students look at the dictionaries and find all of the information that is included, besides the definitions of words," Machnikowski says. "They especially liked the sign language and the longest word in the English language (Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis). They also liked the fact that they were receiving a pencil and bookmark that they could keep."
This is the fifth year for this project. Machnikowski says the idea first came to fruition when Andy Brennan,long-time Hammond Rotary member, informed her of a similar project out west. Hammond Reads also had been talking about it for several years but couldn't get it off the ground. Finally with the help of Rotary and the Telecom Pioneers (retired AT& T employees) the dictionary project became a reality.
Machnikowski is responsible for gathering counts from schools and ordering the dictionaries, as well as organizing, sorting, packing, labeling, and coordinating the delivery schedules.