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Local literacy programs abound
Great Bend's Imagination Library kickoff is Sept. 19
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Gaila Demel, executive director of United Way of Central Kansas, shows Great Bend Chamber of Commerce members a copy of The Little Engine that Could. That is the first book children will receive when they enroll in Dolly Partons Imagination Library. Sign-up for the 67530 zip code is Sept. 19 at the Great Bend Public Library. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

The kickoff for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Great Bend will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, during Story Time at the Great Bend Public Library. People in the 67530 zip code will be able to register so their children will receive a free book in the mail each month from birth until they are 5 years old.
At the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce Coffee on Thursday, Gaila Demel, executive director of United Way of Central Kansas, showed chamber members a copy of “The Little Engine That Could,” the first book each child in the program receives. The last book they receive is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.”
This program will need continued support, Demel said. UWCK already supports Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library projects in Larned, Ellinwood, Otis and Hoisington, and is looking for donors who will sponsor one or more children. Each $30 donation will provide 12 quality, age-appropriate books over a one-year period. For more information stop by United Way of Central Kansas, 1125 Williams St. in Great Bend, call 620-792-2403, or visit the website:
UWCK was the host of this week’s chamber coffee, which was held at Great Bend USD 428’s District Education Center. Demel noted that the school district is a pacesetter group, with high employee participation in supporting United Way.
Superintendent Khris Thexton said the district also sponsors a literacy project in the community, called One District - One Book. Each year children in Great Bend elementary schools are given a copy of the same book. They are encouraged to take it home and read it with a family member. The entire community is invited to get involved in activities related to one book. This year’s book is “The Lemonade War,” by Jacqueline Davies.
United Way of Central Kansas recently kicked off its 2018 campaign, Demel said. It supports 23 agencies.
“We couldn’t be more proud to partner with them,” Thexton said.

Other programs
There’s more to the Great Bend Public Library than books, library spokesman Elizabeth Dukelow noted. The library recently added bilingual story times, an upcoming teen activity will explore coding, and this weekend the Society for Creative Anachronism will conduct a free fiber workshop, at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, in the basement of the library. There will be drop spinning demonstrations and more.
There’s also more than one type of literacy. UWCK will again sponsor “Reality U,” a financial literacy workshop for eighth graders, in partnership with USD 428. Students must try to balance their bills in a role-playing experience. They must budget for housing and transportation, child care and luxuries, not to mention random, unplanned events like a trip to the hospital.
“They always get the car first,” a past facilitator commented. Sports cars and expensive pickups are the most popular options, as are the most expensive smartphones. “And by the end, they have to trade it in.”