United Way of Olmsted County continues enrollment into Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program

(ABC 6 News) – Thanks to generous contributions from over 200 community members, the United Way of Olmsted County (UWOC) will continue to enroll in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

UWOC is partnering with the library program to help give free, age-appropriate books to children between the ages of zero and five for nearly two decades. Earlier this year, the program’s future was in question. In March, $50,000 was able to be raised to fund the program although it costs $90,000 annually to operate. While United Way did not reach the goal, they say the $40,000 raised is enough to continue enrollments for the time being.

“We are grateful for the overwhelming support our community has shown for this program. As we move forward, we hope to encourage enrollment of Olmsted County children who are less likely to already have a library at home. While we’re excited to make this announcement, it doesn’t change the fact that the cost of this important partnership continues to rise. The Imagination Library program currently costs us $90,000 annually, so we will continue to seek donations and sponsorships,” says UWOC President Jerome Ferson in a statement issued to press.

The program has had a large impact locally. Last year alone, UWOC purchased and distributed more than 42,000 free books to more than 3,500 kids in Olmsted County. In the end, that’s nearly a third of area kids.

Since 2014, UWOC has distributed over 40,000 books.