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United Way reading program to start Sept. 18
Program scheduled at Jordaan Library
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The Dolly Parton Imagination Library

By Jim Misunas

LARNED — United Way of Central Kansas has announced Sept. 18 as a kickoff date for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Larned. The ceremony is scheduled at 3 p.m. at the Jordaan Library.
The Larned Pamida and the Pamida Foundation has helped the United Way of Central Kansas to launch the Dolly Parton Imagination Library as a pilot program in Larned. Pamida is donating $500, plus a 10 percent discount on any items in the store.
“Pamida is committed to the continued growth and well-being of the Larned community and we are pleased to support this worthwhile cause,” said Kathleen Scheid, Pamida Foundation coordinator.  
Julie Bugner-Smith, United Way of Central Kansas director, said the program requires $1,000 to get started locally.  The Jordaan Library will eventually sign up children under 5 years old in the 67550 Larned zip code. Children receive an age-appropriate book every month.
“We’re hoping this is another avenue for parents to read to their children,” Bugner-Smith said. “Reading is the basis for everything. It increases their ability to learn and this will help them later in life.”
Bugner-Smith said the Learning Center is another United Way program targeted for young children. She has met with Jordaan librarian Margaret Larson and other civic organizations.
“We’d love to get the community involved,” she said.
Margaret Larson, Jordaan librarian, said her grandchildren, Elka, 4, and Thor, 2, have joined the book program in Eagle River, Alaska. The first book for the children of Andrew and Katie Larson was “The Little Engine That Could.”
“The book is an original 1947 edition and they were quite taken by the pictures,” Larson said. “Both sets of grandchildren like books and love being read to.”
Bugner-Smith said tax-deductible United Way donations can specifically be targeted for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. For information, e-mail Bugner-Smith at; or call (620) 792-2403.
Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort to benefit the children of her home county in east Tennessee in 1996.
Dolly wanted to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. She wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.
So she decided to mail a brand new, age appropriate book each month to every child under 5 in Sevier County, Tenn. With the arrival of every child’s first book, the classic “The Little Engine That Could™,” every child could now experience the joy of finding their very own book in their mail box.
These moments continue each month until the child turns 5—and in their very last month in the program they receive, “Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come.”
Many other communities desired to provide the Imagination Library to their children. Dolly asked a blue ribbon panel of experts to select just the right books and secured Penguin Group USA to be the exclusive publisher for the Imagination Library. A database was built to keep track of the information.
Dolly’s Foundation provides the books.
A community must make the program accessible to all preschool children in their area. The community pays for the books and mailing, promotes the program, registers the children, and enters the information into the database.
The Dollywood Foundation takes over and manages the system to deliver the books to the home.
Two other United Way events are scheduled in Larned.
Winners of the poster contest will be recognized at the Larned High football opener Sept. 2.
The Sept. 15 Larned Chamber of Commerce coffee is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. at Glory Be.
The 2011-2012 United Way of Central Kansas Kickoff is scheduled at 5 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Best Western Angus Inn, 2920 10th Street, Great Bend. A special guest will be Cydeney Boler, Ms. Kansas Essence. Boler, a CASA advocate, will tell how she came through the system.
Nineteen local agencies are funded by the United Way of Central Kansas.