LOS LUNAS — The Rotary Club of Los Lunas completed its 14th year of providing dictionaries to Los Lunas third-grade students. Over those many years, the club as passed out more than 10,250 dictionaries.

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Nathaniel James, Andrew Michael, Monica Merry and Savannah Marie, children of Peter and Melinda Ortega, received certificates of appreciation from the Rotary Club of Los Lunas for their assistance in the club’s dictionary project.

While working within the state’s public health guidelines, the club made the necessary plans to keep this signature project going in spite of the global pandemic. Pete Smargon, the project coordinator, marshaled the club’s members and worked with the Los Lunas Schools and School of Dreams Academy to ensure that dictionaries get into the hands of local students.

“While we were disappointed that we could not deliver the dictionaries in person this year, the important thing is that they will receive them,” said Smargon.

The club president, Fr. Robert Mundy, has made keeping current projects on course a priority of the club.

“We can balance the needs of the kids and still safeguard club members and our community,” Mundy said.

Jim Cunico, the general manager for Ribs Hickory Pit BBQ and club member, received delivery of the dictionaries on behalf of the club. Following a club meeting, and while members were socially distanced and taking other precautions, volunteer members placed face plates with the Rotary Four-Way test into each of the dictionaries.

While the preparations took a bit longer this year, the club was helped by some familiar faces. Club member Peter Ortega routinely balances his law practice, club membership and family by bringing four of his children to lunch meetings with him. The Ortega children, Nathaniel James, Savannah Marie, Andrew Michael and Monica Merry, along with their mother, Melinda Ortega, all pitched in to help.

George Hobbs, the club’s long serving secretary was overjoyed by the gesture, saying, “This project is about the kids in the community, how wonderful to have them help us this year.”

The Ortegas were recognized by the club on Oct. 6 with certificates of appreciation and individual gift cards.

Los Lunas Schools has since picked up the dictionaries for distribution while Smargon delivered School of Dreams Academy its allotment.

“Students will receive their dictionaries when they return to in-person classroom instruction,” Smargon said.

Information on the club is available online at rotaryloslunas.org. Rotary meets at noon each Tuesday at Ribs Restaurant in Los Lunas.

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