The Waxahachie Lions Club is opening up new worlds of learning for students with the simple gift of a dictionary. During September, club members dropped off 696 dictionaries to be given to Waxahachie ISD third-grade students.

The dictionary project was started by the Ellis County Republic Women, which ran it from 2002-2017. The project was then picked up by the Lions Club, which has carried on the mission of providing students with the educational resource.

Lions Club member Tommie Worthy said this program encourages reading, fosters a love of words and aids with a student’s education.

“They have dictionaries in the classroom, but this is just a resource and a helpful tool for the students to do their work,” Worthy said. “These students are so happy that they can have a book that they can call their own. It is not only a dictionary, but it has a bio of all the presidents in it, information about civics and information on every state.”

In previous years, the Lions Club was able to deliver the books in person but, due to the COVID-19 virus, members were only able to drop them off at each school this time. Worthy noted that when club members were able to deliver the books in person, students were excited to receive the gift.

Clift Elementary third-grade teacher Reagan Bruce said the support from the Lions Club is invaluable.

“I can tell you that we truly count on this every year because one of the learning standards for third-graders in the state of Texas is that they have a dictionary that they can access as a part of their learning,” Bruce said. “By the Lions Club coming in and donating this, as a school it saves us a tremendous expense. In that regards it is extremely helpful.”

Bruce said he looks forward to when Lions Club members can come back into the classroom and present the dictionaries in person to the students.  

“They do a wonderful job of coming in and doing a presentation and walking the kids through the different parts of the dictionary,” he said. “I tell you what, the third-graders are just enthralled by it. They leave after the presentation just wanting to explore their dictionaries more. It is a tremendous asset for third-graders here.”

Lions Club president Chad Hughes said the dictionary program is another way the club continues its mission of serving the community.

“The whole underlying theme of the Lions Club is that we serve,” Hughes said. “That is really how we operate, and we are looking for ways to do that within our community, within our state and within our international organization.

“The feedback that we get from this program is that the kids really enjoy it,” he said. “Tommie has told me stories of running into kids years down the road who still remember her giving them their dictionary in third grade.”

Hughes praised Worthy for her efforts not just with this program but with all of the work she does in the club to better the community. He said the club will continue the dictionary program and looks forward to doing it again next year.

For her part, Worthy extended appreciation to fellow Lions Club members, Lee Auvenshine, Kenneth Denny, Kirk Paschall, Terry Phipps and Mark Walter, who helped deliver the boxes of dictionaries to the schools.

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