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Imagining possibilities

WOODSFIELD — A local organization received a $10,000 grant that will go toward the expansion of the Monroe County Dolly Parton Imagination Library program that provides free books to hundreds of children.

The Monroe County Community Foundation, a partner with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, presented the donation to the United Way of Guernsey, Monroe & Noble Counties, the program coordinator of the county’s Imagination Library. The money will be used to fund the county’s Imagination Library program, which provides children ages birth to 5 years old free, “high-quality” books each month.

Gwynn Stewart, MCCF committee member, said the funding will allow for the program’s expansion in the county and provide books to additional children.

There are more than 240 children currently enrolled in the program with hundreds more eligible. This year alone, the United Way has increased the county’s enrollment from 156 to 243 with a goal to increase the enrollment to 530.

Stewart said the expansion goal will be reached through targeted literacy outreach and events for eligible children and their parents or guardians.

According to the United Way, it costs approximately $25 per child to provide books for the year. Stewart said the grant will help fund the program for the next two years, and she said it is needed in the area.

“It costs so much per child to get them enrolled in the program. Because we’re such a high-poverty, high-need area, if you look at some of our scores in early reading, it’s definitely needed,” she said.

Stewart said the program helps promote access to books and supports literacy in the area.

“It’s a great opportunity to get books in the hands of children at that early age and gives parents tools to impress upon them on the early literacy and how important that is,” she said.

In addition to children receiving a monthly subscription of books, parents will receive guides to foster and support a strong bond between the parent and child through the joy of reading, Stewart said.

Those interested in enrolling in the program can register online at OhioImaginationLibrary.com/enroll. For more information on the program, call the United Way at 740-439-2667.

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