2017 Fundraiser Kick Off!

Imagination Library Kicks Off Fundraiser and Honors Reading Advocate

The Ellis County Dolly Parton Imagination Library kicked off its annual fundraising drive with the announcement of the 2017 Champion of Reading.  The Champion of Reading award honors an Ellis County citizen for their advocacy in the field of early childhood reading.  The 2017 Champion of Reading is Rae Smith.

Launched by country music star Dolly Parton, the Imagination Library provides preschool aged children with a free book every month.  All Ellis County children, birth to age five are eligible to participate in the program, regardless of family income.

The Ellis County Imagination Library currently serves 733 Ellis County children.  The program is coordinated through the USD 489 Early Childhood Connections program.  Funds are held in the USD 489 Foundation.  The program is coordinated by Early Childhood Grant Coordinator, Dana Stanton.

The Ellis County Imagination Library is fortunate to receive some local grant funding, but previously relied on state funding has been eliminated.  The program relies on support from the community to continue year to year.

“Last year, $13,428 in private donations were received to keep the program going another year,” said Stanton.  “We are reaching out again to businesses, civic groups and individuals to keep books coming to Ellis County children for another year.”

The goal for the current fundraising period is $18,325.

The Champion of Reading Award was established to honor a local citizen in the field of early childhood reading.  This is the first year for the award, which honors Rae Smith.  Rae spent most of her career working with children.  While coordinating the local YouthFriends initiative, Rae matched hundreds of adult mentors with young children in the Hays Public School system.  The weekly “Read With Me” program promoted shared reading experiences between YouthFriends volunteers and the students at Washington Elementary.  Until her retirement in 2015, Rae served as the local coordinator for the Ellis County Imagination Library.  Under her watch, the program rapidly grew to serve over 1,000 Ellis County children.

Donations to the Ellis County Imagination Library are tax-deductible and can be accepted in any amount.  Donations can be made in honor or memory of a friend or loved one.

The cost to serve 1 child per year is $25.  “Research has shown us that the greatest indicator of future academic success is shared reading between a child and parent,” said Stanton.  “Since the program began in 2012, 32,038 books have been mailed to Ellis County children.  Your donation will help us continue this most important work.”

Donations can be mailed to:
USD 489 Early Childhood Connections
Attn: Dana Stanton
305 Main Street
Hays, KS 67601
Please make checks payable to:  USD 489 Foundation with the words “Ellis County DPIL” in the memo section

For more information about the Imagination Library you may contact Stanton at 785-623-2430.

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2017 Champion of Reading, Rae Smith promoted shared reading through the weekly Washington Elementary  “Read With Me Program”.

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