Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious may be a long and made-up word, but it is easy to pronounce if you have heard it sung by a very talented artist.  Kids all over the world squealed and adults like me, couldn't get the catchy tune out of their heads after they heard Julie Andrews sing it in the movie “Mary Poppins”.  
Wouldn't it be great if learning to spell was as easy and as much fun as singing a song?  Long before Spell-Check and Artificial Intelligence were available to everyone, dictionaries were the go-to resource for help in choosing the right word and making sure it was spelled correctly. If you think that dictionaries are no longer needed in this fast-paced world of the Internet and Smart Phones, think again.
"Service" is a real word with a real meaning, one of which, according to MERRIAM-WEBSTER, is: "contribution to the welfare of others".  "Twelve” is a real word with a real purpose other than representing the numeral 12; it adds value and specificity to actions. 
In this case, “twelve” years ago the Rotary Club of Marshall Texas ordered and distributed Webster’s Student Dictionaries to third-graders at Robert E. Lee elementary school.  The headline, in giant type, in the “Marshall News Messenger”, March 21, 2006, proclaimed, “Defining Generosity”, a pretty neat play on words, don’t you think?  Well the kids did, and “Dictionary Day” became an instant hit, rivaling old Saint Nick in raising expectations and excitement ahead of the eagerly anticipated annual event.
Ever since the Marshall Rotary club was formed, contributing to the welfare of others, particularly kids, encouraging them to learn and providing the means in some cases, has been at the forefront of the projects they have sponsored. 
Over the years more than “twelve” thousand dictionaries have been lovingly inscribed and distributed by Marshall Rotarians to third graders in Marshall and Harrison County.  One can only imagine how that unselfish act of generosity has changed their lives and added to their value both here and beyond?  Some of those kids who received the dictionaries “twelve” years ago, may now have a child who is receiving a dictionary of their own this year or the next.  
The Dictionary Project as it is called, was a significant departure from the preceding eight decades.  The dictionaries are given to every kid in the third grade, not based in any way on merit or need, as had been the case until then.
Moreover, they were personalized. (no easy task).  Each one was carefully inscribed with each third-grader’s name by a Rotarian, and personally handed to each child by a Rotarian who had taken time off from work to go the classroom and hand them out. 
When this ritual is again repeated in 2018, several new Rotarians will join us and become a part of what most likely will be an unforgettable act of service for them too, for there is no better way to define “generosity” than to look it up in the dictionary.
Though only “twelve” years old, the Dictionary Project, and the Rotarians who have previously been a part of this special act of service (contributing to the welfare of others), or who will be having a part in it in 2018, will be remembered August 24, 2019, when we all will be Celebrating a Century of Changing Lives in Marshall – and Beyond, at the Marshall Convention Center, in Marshall, Texas.