Dictionaries for every third grader in Chandler

Rotarians Gary and Bonnie Whiting present dictionaries to third grade students at Navarette Elementary School.

Rotarians Gary and Bonnie Whiting present dictionaries to third grade students at Navarette Elementary School.

Norm Noble

The Sun Lakes Rotary Club has done some extraordinary things since its foundation in 1986. There are long lists of charities that have benefited from the Club’s support – Neighbors Who Care, Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley, the Sheriff’s Posse, Gift of Life-Arizona, to name a few. But the largest beneficiary is the Chandler Unified School District because of the club’s primary outreach toward education. Club members spend hundreds of hours each year mentoring children from third-grade through high school.

One special project that has captured the club’s attention the past several years is giving dictionaries to every third grade student in the Chandler United School District. Every October, members fan out to personally deliver dictionaries to children in the district’s 34 elementary schools. It is the club’s mission to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionaries. The dictionaries are gifts to each student to use at school and at home for years to come. Educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.

Many teachers feel dictionaries are a key to better reading, speech and writing. These skills improve student performance in other subjects as well. Receiving the dictionaries from Rotary members is beneficial to students. The young people meet successful adults in their community who care enough about them to purchase these dictionaries and come to their schools to present them personally. To date, the Sun Lakes Rotary Club has given dictionaries to over 44,000 third graders.

For the past several years, the club has taught a program called Choices to every ninth grader in the Chandler United School District. To date, the club has taught this program to over 50,000 ninth graders.

But not to be forgotten are the little children from around the world who are threatened by something much bigger – polio. These children, too, receive the attention of Sun Lakes Rotary. While polio is not an issue in the USA (we stamped out this virus decades ago), in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, it remains a serious threat. It is a major focus of Rotary International to eradicate this dread disease by immunizing more than two billion children worldwide. The Sun Lakes Rotary Club has joined in this effort with gifts of over $100,000 since the club’s inception in 1986.

If you would like to know more, the Rotary Club of Sun Lakes meets for breakfast every Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. in the Oakwood Country Club Ballroom. The meetings start at 7:00 a.m. and end promptly at 8:00 a.m. Cost of breakfast is $12. To make reservations for any meeting contact Rotarian Don Prestin at 480-802-0439. For Sun Lakes residents, if you want to know more, contact Charles Loew at 602-721-3680; SunBird residents should contact Walt Mills at 480-883-8007.