Every child in St. Charles Parish from birth to five years old can receive a book in the mail every month if they sign up for a new United Way program that is scheduled to begin in October.
The program, known as Imagination Library, calls for age appropriate, and sometimes gender specific, reading books to be delivered to preschool children. It was actually started by Dolly Parton in 1996 to foster a love for reading in her hometown. In 2000, Parton began spreading the program to other communities under the condition that they make it available to all preschool children in the area.
Kacy Kernan, the United Way of St. Charles’ director of community impact wanted to bring the program to St. Charles and the board approved the decision in June.
“Imagination Library has seen that 20 percent of children would sign up for the first year a community of our size offers the program,” Trista Brazan, the campaign and communications manager for the UWSC, said. “This would be approximately 700 children across St. Charles Parish.”
Brazan said that the United Way hopes to sign up 25 percent of the children in the parish in the first year and they encourage all parents who have children in that age group to sign up now.
“We would be more than happy to send all of the children in the parish, age birth to five, a book every month,” she said.
The books are chosen every month by the Imagination Library “Library Committee,” and an identical book is sent to children in the same age or gender group.
The United Way of St. Charles, through community donations, promotes the program, registers children and enters the information in the database. From there, the Dollywood Foundation takes over and manages the system to deliver the books to the home.
“This program is supported by the United Way of America and is quickly being adopted by local United Way organizations,” Brazan said. “United Way of St. Charles is the only United Way organization in Southeast Louisiana to offer the Imagination Library to its community.”