Students gather around volunteer Ray Arment as he hands out the dictionaries.
Students gather around volunteer Ray Arment as he hands out the dictionaries. COLBY HESS

For 19 years straight, the Ohop Grange has made it its mission to ensure that every third grader in each of Eatonville’s three elementary schools receives their very own copy of “A Student’s Dictionary.”

The dictionaries are produced by The Dictionary Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing all students nationwide with dictionaries to assist their education. It is a valuable reference for students. It contains definitions, but also a thesaurus, atlas, presidential biographies, sign language and braille guides, and other useful information to help augment what the children learn in school.

“Some of the students choose to take them home,” said third grade teacher Karrie Sepich. “But many others keep them here in their desks to look up words they don’t know during reading assignments. They’re really a nice resource.”

The organization behind the effort is the Ohop Grange. Originally founded in the 19th century as a farmers’ cooperative, it now serves as more of a general community support group, although it still works to help farming families in the Eatonville area.

The money to pay for the dictionaries comes through a variety of fundraisers put on each year, including a bake sale held annually at Arrow Lumber. In addition to handing out dictionaries to third graders, volunteer members of the grange also knit warm hats for needy children as well as donate to the food bank at the Eatonville Community Center.

Not only does the dictionary handout help students attain a quality education, but it also provides a fun and rewarding family get together, with husband and wife team Ray and Linda Arment along with their grown daughter Jennifer Arment pooling their time and energy to make it happen.

The Arments paid their final visit of the year to the Weyerhaeuser School on Friday, Dec. 7 after having previously visited Columbia Crest and Eatonville Elementary earlier in the week, ensuring all area third graders received a copy.

“I met one girl recently who’s now in her early 20s and still has her copy she received in third grade,” Linda Arment explained to a group of excited students.

With the continued generosity and support of all local community members who contribute time and money to this worthy event, it’s sure to carry on for many years to come.