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As a freelance writer for Florida Today, a Gannett Company publication, I wrote many community news stories about the Brevard County area while living in Indialantic, FL. This feature story appeared on FLToday.com and in the print edition. 

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Elks supply Creel with dictionaries

MELBOURNE — More than 100 third-grade students now have an abundance of words at their hands with the help of their very own Webster dictionaries and the Melbourne Elks Lodge that donated the books.

It’s a national initiative called The Dictionary Project and aims to give dictionaries to as many third graders as possible.

Charlie Greene of the Melbourne Elks Lodge learned of The Dictionary Project while attending a national Elks convention in California over the summer and decided to bring it to the area

On Nov. 13, the Melbourne Elks Lodge presented Dr. W. F. Creel Elementary School with dictionaries — the first school to receive these donations from the group.

“We certainly appreciate it and certainly the students will appreciate it for a long time,” said Tim Heenan, a third-grade teacher at the school.

One hundred and fifteen students received dictionaries, a donation that costs about $250, Greene said.

Several members of the Elks Lodge hope the donations won’t stop there.

Nancy Miller of the Melbourne Elks Lodge, and the person heading the project’s efforts, said her hope is to present one school a month with dictionaries through donations; later this school year they will be choosing a school in Palm Bay.

Greene and Miller agree The Dictionary Project has a different appeal, giving people a special incentive to help out.

“They know that you’ve done something for youngsters,” Greene said. “Here you see (the donation) from beginning to end. I think that’s what enthuses people, is to see the product.”

Dr. W. F. Creel Elementary School Principal Kathryn Eward said it’s an important donation because while funds exist for purchasing updated textbooks, the same idea doesn’t apply to dictionaries.

“Nowhere is there a process to buy and supply dictionaries,” Edward said, adding that by the third grade, children are expected to spell correctly and expand their vocabulary.

Ed Lietz, a third-grade teacher, said the dictionaries create another platform for teaching reading skills.

“This is phenomenal — it’ll just be another way to strengthen their vocab,” Leitz said. “This needs a lot of notoriety because the kids will just chew this up.”