The Oregon-Northwood Rotary Club provides support for educational programs throughout the area, yet the business owners involved in this “service above self” organization rarely have an opportunity to visit the children they help.
Only near the end of the school year, when Rotarians distribute a “Webster’s Dictionary for Students” to every third-grader in the Oregon-Northwood educational system, including Kateri, do the fundraisers get to visit classrooms.
Students at Jerusalem Elementary School received their dictionaries May 13, when Melinda Ciesielczyk, Matt Mackowiak and Kimberly Vaculik visited classrooms to offer their presentation.
“I love being able to come here and see the students in person,” said Ciesielczyk, distributing dictionaries for the first time this year. “It’s something they’ve never received before and you can see their excitement.”
The distribution is made possible through proceeds from Elder-Beerman coupon books the Rotary Club sells in the fall.
When Ciesielczyk asks the fourth-graders if they have ever heard of the Rotary Club, most shake their heads “no.” When she asks if they’ve ever had breakfast with Santa Claus at Clay High School, a few hands go up.
“We have breakfast and gifts, so we hope you’ll come out and see us in December,” she tells the students. “Now, how many of you have older brothers and sisters who have been to the Challenger Learning Center?”
Another Rotary Club project sends every seventh-grader in Oregon and St. Kateri schools, and every fifth-grader in Northwood to the Lucas County Challenger Learning Center. The annual golf invitational, being held June 20 at Chippewa Golf Course, is expected to raise close to $10,000 for this purpose.
“They send kids to the moon,” Ciesielczyk told the students. “When you are in seventh grade you will get to go to the moon, because that is one of our projects.”
As the dictionaries were distributed, many of the children wanted to know if they could take the books home with them.
“You do get to keep dictionaries, and your name is on it so you get to keep it forever,” said Mackowiak.
While the opportunity to see excited fourth-graders receive the gift of a dictionary is no doubt one of the most heartwarming benefits of being a member, the club has made an impact in many other ways. Another recent triumph, April’s Paint away Polio art education event, raised $1,658 for End Polio Now, which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matched two-to-one. For the fourth-graders in Mrs. Graham’s class, however, the gift of the dictionaries was enough reason to remember the Rotary Club. “This is an incredible gift,” said the substitute teacher, “now what do you say?”
In unison, the classroom of nearly 20 young girls and boys shouted “thank you,” which may be all the encouragement these donors need to keep making their rounds year after year.
Jackson Whitten receives his personalized dictionary when members of the Oregon-Northwood Rotary Club visited Jerusalem Elementary School, May 13.