There are many December traditions. Tree decorating, menorah lighting, festive food sampling and multi celebration singing. For The Tualatin Rotary Club, December has always involved dictionaries. For years, every third grade student in Tualatin, has been gifted a dictionary by Rotary. The books are ordered and given dedication plates. They are then delivered to each elementary school by members of the club. Students are invited to an interactive dictionary class. Fun challenges are given to help students find words and other information. Giggles overwhelm the students when they are directed to the longest word in the English language. Eight and nine year old students are given a “rite of passage” reward. As experienced readers, they are now ready for the great book that will increase their vocabulary and introduce them to the wide world of words.
This December is different. Due to COVID, students are not physically in school buildings. The dictionary delivery tradition has been placed on hold until students are back in class. A long time Rotary tradition seemed interrupted until a phone called changed everything.
Carolyn Horne is a travel agent and a member of the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce. The COVID pandemic has been especially devastating to her industry. Like many businesses she has been forced to retool and try new approaches to her business plan. Carolyn and her husband decided to travel to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. They would personally document a safe travel plan and share it with their clients at Time To Travel Tours. They booked a stay at The Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort and Sandals La Toc. Both locations take part in the charity program called, Pack For a Purpose.
The Sandals Foundation has adopted schools in St. Lucia. Travelers are asked to reserve space in their luggage for school supplies. In addition to crayons, markers and colored paper, the list included English dictionaries. Carolyn reached out to Rotary and the December tradition had new life. This time the dictionaries would go the distance and travel to another country. The world of words from Tualatin had the opportunity to delight and enhance the education of children an ocean away. Fifty five books were snugly packed in suitcases and delivered to foreign schools. Once again, students will be exercising their minds as they locate and learn new words. They will work on many new skills; sequencing, spelling, alphabetization, context and much more. When children go looking for one word, they are introduced to many others. Dictionaries are treasure troves of knowledge and they promote literacy and academic success everywhere in the world.
The Tualatin Rotary Club has dedicated its fundraising activities to the educational enhancement of children in their community. The club has helped build a track at Bridgeport Elementary, sponsors Books on Wheels to provide books for all kids each summer, supports the mentoring class Intercambio at Tualatin High School, sponsors first generation college students with four year scholarships and much more. This December dictionaries took an unexpected trip but their mission remained the same, expand opportunities for children to learn. When the dictionaries arrived in St. Lucia, it was a local Rotary Club member, Judy Deterville, who assisted in their delivery. The Rotarian motto of service above self is flourishing from coast to coast. The December dictionary tradition lives on even in 2020.