This month and next United Way of the Ozarks is holding its annual pledge drive. For those who wish to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Springfield, checks can be mailed to
United Way of the Ozarks
320 N. Jefferson
Springfield, MO 65806-1109
A gift of $25 provides twelve books, one each month, mailed to a child’s home for a year. Last week a man who read a recent article about this program walked into United Way and handed them a check for $1,000, enough to support 40 children for a year! Our Imagination Library is free to families who register their children from birth to five and live in areas with the greatest needs. Eventually we want to serve all children 0-5 in all areas of Greene County but we began where providing books in homes can do the most good and are currently reaching almost 2,000 kids every month.
I know that many of you live in other parts of the United States and in other countries. Imagination Library is in hundreds of cities and town across America and elsewhere. More than forty million books have been mailed to children and research has shown that reading to children under five on a regular basis improves their readiness for school when they reach kindergarten. If this program appeals to you and you wish to help, chances are there is an Imagination Library program near you. For anyone who lives in my area — or anyone anywhere who would like to help — please consider supporting us sometime during September and October. Last week a dear friend in Colorado sent a check, which I presented yesterday at an Imagination Library meeting. I wish I had taken a picture of those smiling faces!
Across the country boys and girls are getting ready for school. Most of them are excited and look forward to seeing old friends, meeting their teachers, and settling into new classes. For others, around one in four, school is torture. School is where they struggle. School is where they see others succeed while they fail, over and over. School is where they decide early on that they will drop out when they are old enough. It’s where they decide that life living on the fringe of society is better than living with the daily humiliation of public failure.
The number one cause of that failure begins when children reach kindergarten and don’t know what to do. They aren’t ready. No one has helped them prepare to learn. No one has read to them. In many homes there isn’t a single book for a child. Not one, single, book. If a child can’t read, doesn’t know how to learn, and sees school right away as a place to hate, teachers know even that early that he or she is already doomed unless urgent, immediate intervention can turn that young life around.
Sometimes it works; often it does not. The damage has been done during those vital early years when young brains are growing more rapidly than at any other time of life. Getting books into the homes of children who need them most is the goal we set when a group of us brought Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Springfield. All parents have to do is sign up for their children under five years old. From then until their 5th birthday, they receive a book mailed to them at home every month. It’s free. This program is in place across America in hundreds of cities. More than 70 million free books have now been mailed to children in every state. Research has shown that this approach works, that a significant improvement in school readiness has been measured in children receiving their book every month.
Our job is to raise the funds to keep Imagination Library going and growing in Springfield. The cost per child is $27 per year. Can you imagine? Twelve books mailed to a child’s home for only $27 per year? No problem to raise that much for a few children, but we have thousands in Springfield who need this program. Currently we’re serving about 1,750 kids so we’re nowhere near finished growing. The problem is that we’re nearly broke. At our meeting yesterday we reviewed our finances and determined that we have enough cash on hand to last four more months. Then it’s over.
Today is a new day. We’ll meet it with determination not to let this happen. Our group of fewer than ten people will start from scratch looking for major donors to help us through this crisis and prepare for the future. The issue is too important to end in failure. Wish us luck.
As some of you know I’m involved in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Springfield. I helped bring the right folks together to get us going and on paper I continue to chair the steering committee. We’re all grateful that our United Way agreed to sponsor the program here and the real brains of the outfit is the United Way’s Cindy Howell.
Although the cost of providing twelve books per year for each enrolled child under five is only $25, we have many thousands of children in that group so we are constantly looking for ways to raise the funding we need to maintain what we’ve accomplished so far and allow the program to grow. This is from a note I just received from Cindy.
“We are again participating in Give Ozarks Day, May 3 with our emphasis on raising funds for Imagination Library. We have set a goal of raising $17,000 so we can be fully funded through the end of the year. This is also going out to our UW donors, volunteer leadership and campaign volunteers, as well, asking to give the gift of books to our kids. No group understands this better than you. So, please send this out to your friends, distribution lists, far & wide, (you don’t have to live in Springfield to donate!)…think of it this way…we only need 680 donors at $25 each to reach our $17,000 goal!…I know between all of us that we know that many people…plus if they give $50…that makes it just a little easier…So Please, distribute to your lists, asking them to help us, help the kiddos who have little to no access to books in their home…ask them to look to the future…With Imagination Library, we are building future teachers, writers, leaders, mom’s & dad’s..Thanks so much! Cindy :)”
My thanks to Cindy, United Way, our wonderful steering committee, and everyone who adds Imagination Library to the list of causes worth supporting.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Michelle Barnes is hosting a wrap-up of the witty ditties posted on her site all this month by poets who took my one-word challenge. Go there and read them. You’ll be glad you did!
http://michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/2016/02/february-dmc-wrap-up-giveaway.html . P.S. There’s a free book in it for someone.
I’m happy to announce that the folks at Don Wessel Honda are once again planning their DPIL Test Drive Event to benefit Springfield’s Imagination Library.
Dates are March 11-21, 2016
For each test drive for a new car, the dealership will donate $25 to DPIL (Dolly Parton Imagination Library).
We have also worked out a secondary promotional piece that for each test drive, Krispy Kreme (on Campbell) will give the adults a doughnut and a small coffee. There will also be promo information at the Krispy Kreme to encourage their customers to go right up the street and test drive a new car.
Our United Way sponsor is working on a piece to go out – but each of us on the steering committee wants to use personal social networks and e-mail to help raise community awareness. I hope those of you in the area will also help.
Yesterday I met with our Springfield steering committee for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library as the deadline nears for our first charity golf tournament. The event takes place at Highland Springs on October 19.
Although Dolly Parton’s people make it as easy as possible to place books into the hands of youngsters under five, each community that accepts her challenge is charged with raising the $25 per child per year it costs. Although we’re up to 2,000 children per month now (25 x 2,000 = 50,000/year), there are 9,000 children in our community and closer to 16,000 county-wide. We’ve come a long way but have a long way to go.
If our charity golf tournament is successful, it can add much needed money to support this important program. Click here for the information: https://www.facebook.com/imaginationlibrarysgf , http://www.uwozarks.com/our-impact/united-way-initiatives/imagination-library
Interested in being a presenting sponsor? Contact Michelle Herschend: firstname.lastname@example.org
For tournament information contact Conrad Briggs: 417-840-7915 or email email@example.com
We still have room for more teams to sign up so if you or anyone you know might be interested in entering the tournament and/or supporting it at some level, please share this information. Cut off for team registration is October 1 so timing is critical.
Thanks very much!