The Sumter Rotary Club became involved with The Dictionary Project in the fall of 1999. Working with Mrs. Mary French, the Charlestonian who founded the project and established it as a non-profit organization, we distributed dictionaries to all third graders in the public schools of Sumter School Districts 2 and 17 that year. Our club ordered the dictionaries through Mrs. French and coordinated the distribution to the students. The other two local clubs shared the cost on a prorated basis.
After several years we added the private and parochial schools, and now every third grader in Sumter County receives a dictionary. The other two clubs have become active in helping to distribute the books, but our club has continued to take the lead in coordinating the project. The Lakewood High Interact Club became involved some years ago taking on the responsibility of pasting the Rotary stickers into the front of each dictionary, counting out the dictionaries, and packing boxes for each school based on third grade enrollment figures supplied to us by the schools.