The Patrick County Chamber of Commerce is currently accepting donations to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the county.
Rebecca Adcock, executive director of the chamber, said the library is a book giving program through Dollywood Foundations for children aged zero to five.
“Once you get enrolled in the program, the foundation mails out age-appropriate books each month to the kids from birth until age five at no cost to the families,” she said.
Started in 1995 by singer-songwriter, actress, and philanthropist Dolly Parton, the program currently spans five countries and gifts more than a million free books each month to children around the world.
“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world,” Parton said on the Imagination Library website.
As of Nov. 30, 193,008,232 books have been gifted to children from the program.
Adcock said the program helps to dramatically increase the number of books in a lot of children’s homes.
“If there’s books in the kids’ homes then they’re more apt to read either from an adult or from an older sibling sometimes,” she said.
The idea for the program started in late spring after a county resident posted about receiving books from the program.
“She had just posted, ‘hey, how do we get this in Patrick County,’ and I got tagged in it and we started researching it,” Adcock said, and added the goal is to fund the program for three years.
“While it’s free for the kids to sign up and receive the books, somebody somewhere has to pay for those books, and that’s what the funding is for,” she said.
Because reading scores in Virginia have dropped, the state recently allocated funds in its biannual budget for the program for communities that already have it, “but more importantly, to help try and get more communities online with it, including Patrick County,” Adcock said.
The chamber is working with STEP Inc. and One Family Productions to connect with interested families and to reach the projected total cost of $12,000.
Through a fundraiser for Giving Tuesday, One Family raised over $1,200 for the program. A dollar-for-dollar match was pledged.
Adcock estimates about 800 kids in Patrick County will be eligible to enroll in the program, according to the 2020 census.
“Experience with the program shows that usually once you’re up and fully running, 65 percent of your kids will sign up and get enrolled in the program,” she said.
Adcock expects the program to start early next year. Enrollment will begin at the start of 2023 with paper registration only.
“If there’s a family that wants to sign up and they feel like they can contribute, the cost is $2.10 per book, which comes to $25.20 per year for each child. You can’t go to” a box store “and buy two books for $25,” she said, adding the program provides 12 books “for that cost.”
Those interested in donating can do so by going to www.onefamilyproductions.org/make-a-donation or send checks with Patrick County Dolly Parton Imagination Library in the memo line to One Family, STEP, or the chamber.
For more information, visit www.imaginationlibrary.com.
The Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with STEP Inc. and One Family Productions, is raising money to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Patrick County.