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Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library fundraising campaign raises over $22,000
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Hundreds of children in Barton and Pawnee counties will benefit from one book per month being mailed to their homes between birth and age 5 years as the result of a National Book Month fundraiser. 

United Way of Central Kansas (UWCK) partnered with Barton County Young Professionals (BCYP) to host a fundraiser in October for the local Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) program. The fundraising campaign totaled $22,259 in donations. Nearly 550 local children benefit from these books already with no charge to the participating families. The average cost to send monthly DPIL books to a local child for one year is $30.

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming generosity to keep Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library books in the hands of central Kansas kiddos,” commented Gaila Demel, executive director of UWCK regarding the project. “Partnering with BCYP was a great fit because they see the impact of what books can do for their children, nieces and nephews. They share in the enjoyment of discovering the stories and lessons from each book. Our work in childhood literacy stems from our mission of helping improve early language and math development, regardless of demographic or socioeconomic factors, and we thank BCYP for their efforts.” 

Harper Camperland, First Kansas Bank, The University of Kansas Health System Great Bend Campus, Fuller Industries LLC and Wheatland Electric Cooperative Inc. established a pool of funds to match the first 250+ children sponsored by a $30 donation.

“The support of these businesses and their commitment to childhood literacy is incredibly impactful. We wholeheartedly thank each of these businesses for their contributions,” commented Regan Reif, co-organizer of the fundraiser. 

Additional groups that supported this campaign through a Golden Belt Community Foundation Giving Together Grant were donor advised funds from First Kansas Bank, the Patricia A. Schmidt Donor Advised Fund, the Don and Catherine Brening Donor Advised Fund, and the Chris and Vicki Batchman Donor Advised Endowment Fund. And lastly, a donation from the Dorothy M. Morrison Foundation was received that matched the $8,000 received from local businesses. 

“Thank you to all of the donors for recognizing the importance of literacy in the development of our children. Over time, improving the literacy rate of our children will increase the high school graduation rate and thus increase the employability of our future generations” added Mark Mingenback, co-organizer of this fundraiser.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a program that sends free books to children from birth to age 5 in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. 

Over 25,000 free books have been delivered to children in Barton and Pawnee counties since the DPIL program was launched locally in 2012. Families can sign up children ages 0-5 to receive DPIL books by visiting their local library. 

To support this early literacy program, checks made out to United Way of Central Kansas with “DPIL” in the memo line may be mailed to 1125 Williams St., Great Bend, KS 67530. For more information contact United Way of Central Kansas by calling 620-792-2403 or send email to