United Way of Central Kansas kicked off Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Great Bend in August with much anticipation and fanfare, celebrating the children that the program would benefit.
The first books of this program were sent out in September to more than 110 children, in October 160 children received books, and November saw 180 children receive free books delivered to their homes thanks to Dolly Partons Imagination Library, UWCK officials said.
Two of those children are Logan and Lakin Biggs, daughters of Brent and Kaylee Biggs. “Logan had been asking me, Mommy, when do I get a book in the mail? She was so excited when we got home that day and there was a book addressed to her and one for her sister too,” Kaylee said.
“Logan even helped her little sister open her book too,” Kaylee said. “We are anxious now to receive future books that will be different for each one of the girls. Logan loves to read already and we are so lucky to have the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program at our local library. Thank you United Way and Great Bend Public Library.”
This program was initially brought to Central Kansas with its introduction in Larned and Ellinwood. Over the last year, UWCK set forth on a mission to expand the program into Hoisington and Great Bend.
“In May, we saw the program kickoff in Hoisington, and in August it started in Great Bend,” said UWCK Executive Director Gaila Demel. “This was a lofty endeavor, spearheaded by our DPIL committee consisting of Cole and Regan Reif, Mark Mingenback, and Julie Bugner-Smith. With the support of numerous businesses, organizations, and individuals we were able to see this goal into fruition.”
A major component of this program working, is a close partnership with the Great Bend Public Library, Demel said. “One of the goals within the goal of bringing Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Great Bend, is to see more children and families utilizing all the amazing programs that are offered at the Great Bend Public Library.”
Since the start of this program, the library has seen a significant increase in the number of people who have signed up for library cards and a higher utilization of their services. “We have been very excited to team up with United Way and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library,” said Amy Mayhill, GBPL Youth Services.
“The response from families has been very encouraging for young readers and early literacy in Barton County,” Mayhill said. “Families have been seeing their books arrive in the mail and are excited.”