Photo by Sharon Kunkel / Goodwill Manasota
The Dictionary Project

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Photo by Sharon Kunkel / Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota, Rotary Club distribute thousands of books and dictionaries to area students
Partnership enables children in Sarasota and Manatee counties to receive an anatomy book and dictionary

SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Many years ago, Goodwill Manasota received a donation of 24,000 copies of a children’s book from an anonymous donor, with the request that children in Manatee and Sarasota counties would receive copies. The books, titled “Inside the Human Body,” are from the award-winning “Magic School Bus” series. Rick Hughes, Goodwill Manasota’s director of community outreach, strategized to ensure the largest reach and impact, and distributed the books through a partnership with Rotary Clubs in Sarasota and Manatee through the Dictionary Project, which provides a free dictionary to every fourth grader in both counties.

On December 10, 2004 the Rotary Club of Sarasota began distributing dictionaries and the donated anatomy books to all fourth graders at Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota. For the last two years, Goodwill’s Good Readers program has partnered with Alta Vista as part of its literacy program. Good Readers are volunteers who read to the students for a class period, and then give each student a book of his or her own to take home. Since 2013, the Good Readers have read to more than 400 students at Alta Vista and have also read and given books to students at The Visible Men Academy in Bradenton.

The Rotary Club of Sarasota provides other volunteer services at Alta Vista in the form of a backpack program and a food pantry, both designed to address food insecurity in the student population by providing take-home food for children and their families. Donations of nonperishable food items are accepted at all Goodwill retail and donors sites, and then given to local food banks.

In addition to the over 10,000 books and dictionaries that were distributed through the Rotary Dictionary Project, several hundred copies were delivered to The Patterson Foundation and distributed during the Remote Area Medical (RAM) free clinic, held at Manatee Technical College in November.

“One of the priorities of the Goodwill Foundation is to provide opportunities to partner with organizations throughout the community. In this case, we knew exactly what to do with the books – we wanted to get them out to all local students in both counties while partnering with some really great organizations,” said Goodwill Manasota Foundation vice president Veronica Brandon Miller. “Numerous studies show a direct correlation between reading at grade level and the opportunity for future success in a student’s life. This was a great opportunity to reach out and encourage a love of reading for the students while connecting them to community leaders.”

The remaining books will be distributed through a collaboration with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Embracing our Differences, and Goodwill Manasota’s Good Readers Program.

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