United Way has offered the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library book program to Knox County Children since June, 2010. Imagination Library was founded by Dolly Parton in 1996 to provide free books to the children in her home county in eastern Tennessee. Since then, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has mailed 25 million books to children in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Many United Way’s across the country have embraced Imagination Library as a wonderful enhancement to their Early Learning initiatives. After enrollment, free age-appropriate books are provided each month to children enrolled until the child's 5th birthday. Register on-line and participants begin receiving books within 8 weeks of signing up.
The program is incredibly efficient. Not only do the books enrich the lives of the children who receive them but it is also inexpensive – at a program cost of just two dollars per book, small donations to the program enhance many lives. Our United Way education coordinator and her passionate volunteers work hard to make it a zero-waste program. If a family moves without updating their shipping information, the books are returned to United Way. Our team contacts the family to make sure that the child the book was sent to receives it and updates the information. Any remaining unclaimed books are cleaned and the shipping label is removed so that the book is de-identified and then it is donated so that it ends up in the hands of a child that will enjoy it.
Quality early learning sets our community up for success! It reduces crime rates, teen pregnancy, welfare dependency, job training costs, special education costs, and grade repetition, while it increases success in school, graduation rates, workforce readiness, job productivity, and community engagement. Each month almost 1,900 Knox County children receive an Imagination Library book delivered right to their home! In 2017 alone, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mailed 22,447 books to children aged birth to five years old. Over the past eight years, over one hundred and twenty five thousand free books have been mailed to local children.
This United Way program encourages family bonding, provides individual attention to children, and removes barriers to access educational material. By donating to United Way of Knox County’s Campaign, you will be supporting the Imagination Library Program and the other local programs that United Way implements or invests in. Give, Advocate, Volunteer. LIVE UNITED.