January 2017 marked the fifth year that the Rotary Club of Whitesburg has been providing free books to children under five years old in Letcher County through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program.
In January 2015, the first month the program was in operation, 52 children were registered. Five years later, we have 681 children registered and receiving books. More than 500 children have reached the age of five and graduated from the program.
The first book a child receives is The Little Engine That Could and the last book received is Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! Maci Richardson, daughter of Mark and Amber Richardson, is enjoying reading her favorite book, My No, No, No Day! This is one of the many books Maci has received through the Imagination Library program.
While the books are free to eligible children in Letcher County, the books are not free to the Rotary Club. The Whitesburg Rotary Foundation was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to access books through the Dollywood Foundation. The Rotary Club/Foundation must raise the funds needed to reimburse the Dollywood Foundation for the cost of the books and postage. The Whitesburg Rotary Foundation is managed by a board of directors consisting of President Barbara Ison, Vice-President Reed Caudill, Secretary Carl B. Banks, Treasurer Margaret Hammonds, and Assistant Secretary Larry Whitaker.
The Rotary Club of Whitesburg is on target to mail 8,500 books to eligible children in Letcher County in 2017. This is possible through donations from local businesses, grant funds and generous donors who support this program. For a $30 tax deductible donation to the Whitesburg Rotary Foundation, an eligible child can receive an age appropriate book each month mailed directly to the home. An investment in a child’s early literacy development will be rewarded with a bright academic future.
Eligible children living in Letcher County can be registered online at www.imaginationlibrary.com, or by completing a registration form available at any location of Whitaker Bank or Community Trust Bank.
To learn how you can support this program in Letcher County, contact Margaret Hammonds at 633-8200 or Barbara Ison at 634-2106.