Andy Costello, Hal Mattson with Third Graders of Arroyo Vista Ellementary School

Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Elks Third Grade Dictionary Project

The Dictionary Project was founded in 1995 by Mary French of Charleston, SC. The project’s primary focus is to promote literacy to children in third grade as they transition from learning how to read to identify and use information. The Elks organization joined this project in 2004. The Mission Viejo / Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge joined the dictionary project in 2007. Every year starting in 2007, Andy Costello and  Hal Mattson have distributed and conducted hundreds of in-person dictionary presentations to enthusiastic third graders in South Orange County. Since then, many other Mission Viejo Elks members have also volunteered to prepare, distribute, and give dictionary presentations to the third graders. The dictionary is really a mini-encyclopedia, as in addition to the definition of over 35,000 words, it includes an abundance of other useful information: the American Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, data on all 50 states, the solar system, sign language, are a few of the many included items. The Lodge dictionary distribution was originally started and managed by PER Pat Martino. Over the past 13 years, the Mission Viejo Saddleback Valley lodge has distributed almost 60,000 dictionaries. Thanks to the Elks Bingo Charity committee and all the lodge members for donating the funds and their time for this important youth program.

By Hal Mattson, Lodge Past Exalted Ruler