Valley Grange plans busy fall schedule

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GUILFORD — Valley Grange of Guilford notes that the fall event calendar includes plenty of opportunities for celebrating and strengthening American values and hometown roots. Master Jim Annis notes “Our Grange’s long-standing Words for Thirds Dictionary Project has become our signature program and this is the season for it. But it can get challenging to keep track of everything that we have going on this time of year.”

Members of Valley Grange are justifiably proud of the Words for Thirds Project which has an 18-year history of providing every third grader in the area with their own personal dictionary. The project currently includes four school districts (SAD 4, RSU 68, SAD 41 and AOS 94) and has provided nearly 3,000 children with their own personal dictionaries since its inception.

Program Director Walter Boomsma explains that “We go beyond simply giving them a dictionary. In some cases, schools make a field trip to the Grange Hall — in other cases, we have a team that visits the schools and classrooms so we can talk about the fun that comes with looking things up and learning. The kids find it empowering and seem to love their dictionaries.”

Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis schedules the Grange’s Bookworm Program, an outgrowth of the Words for Thirds Project. “In collaboration with the school and teachers, we schedule Grange Readers visits to second and third-grade classrooms at PCES. in Guilford where individual students read to us from books they choose. The kids really look forward to our visits and we hear some great stories!” This year’s program will start on Oct. 24 with a kickoff assembly at the school.

The Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters are finishing up a supply of winter hats and mittens for area schools. The Grange also supports Project Linus and members Heather Burgess and Pat Engstrom plan at least one “Blanketeer” gathering every year resulting in a healthy supply of snuggly blankets for kids and lap robes for adults.

The Grange’s Community Service efforts are diverse, ranging from programs supporting veterans to creating Kitty Ditty Bags containing activities to occupy and entertain children who must sit in courtrooms. The Grange also makes its hall available to nonprofits and community groups and loves opportunities to recognize volunteers and those who contribute to their communities.

In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Valley Grange will also be hosting the Piscataquis County Spirit of America awards at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 15. This year’s program will recognize 14 Piscataquis County individuals and organizations for volunteerism and displaying the Spirit of America.

“This is always an uplifting, fun evening,” Boomsma said. “How can you not enjoy hearing about the many good things — otherwise often unnoticed — that are happening in our communities?” The Grange will be providing light refreshments immediately following the program. The public is invited and all Grange programs are family-friendly.

For additional information about Valley Grange and its schedule and programs, visit the website The Grange also maintains a Facebook page and members are always happy to welcome questions and interest.

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