Valdosta Daily Times

November 9, 2013

Imagination Library book program raises thousands

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Two weeks ago, the Imagination Library asked the community for help. Valdosta and Lowndes County responded in a big way.

The Valdosta Daily Times published a direct appeal from the Imagination Library. Sponsored by Valdosta’s Rotary Clubs, the Imagination Library provides a book per month to registered children from birth to 5 years old. Since its inception a few years ago, it has served 514 South Georgia children.

It has always had enough funds to meet the needs of registered children until a couple of months ago. Parents tried enrolling 43 children but the area Imagination Library did not have enough money to pay for the youngsters’ books.

The Times has partnered with the program in the past, and Dr. Dennis Marks, the Imagination Library team leader, asked if The Times could help again.

Since a series of stories was published in the Sunday, Oct. 29, Life section, the community has donated $8,379 so far to the Imagination Library.

“That took care of the 43 children on the waiting list at the end of September, as well as another 21 children since then, and leaves us enough money in the bank to enroll 50 more children,” Marks said Friday. “The community outpouring of support has been wonderful.”

The additional funds will help the program register more children in the future. The Imagination Library is always receiving requests to register more youngsters, Marks said.

“Parents across the community recognize how important it is for their children to read. We work with a number of social agencies to enroll children, but the program is available for all children in the community under age 5.”

Marks said there are more than 8,000 children who are under 5 years old in Lowndes County. More donations mean more children can receive the Imagination Library books.

“Because of the generosity of the community, we can continue to register more children,” Marks said. “We are prudent in our use of the community’s donations and do not register children until we have the money in the bank to pay for the books through each child’s fifth birthday.”

The idea behind the project is that books in the home, books that belong to a child and the family, foster an increased love for reading at an early age for children, and involve the family in reading to the child.

“From the enthusiastic response of the parents and from reports of how well children who had received Imagination Library books before age 5 are now performing in school, we know that this program really makes a difference in our community,” Marks said. “All of these Imagination Library books go to children in Lowndes County, including Valdosta. This is an effective way for individuals and businesses in our community to help the children of our community learn to read. Children who learn to read early in life become avid learners in school, skillful workers on the job, and informed citizens in the community.

The Lowndes Imagination Library Team lists the following contributors.

Gold Scholars ($1,200–$2,999): Melanie Ford in memory of Erik Thomas Barr, Kilgard Instrument Repair, Giovanni Panizzi, Wild Adventures.

Silver Scholars ($600–$1199): Bush Investment Group.

Bronze Scholars ($120–$599): Carleen Abend, George & Joyce Aigen, Jennifer Beal-Alvarez, Clinton & Jeana Beeland, Mary Kay Corbitt, Jane Elza, Richard & Laura Feese, GO4, Richard & Benita Hall, Frank & Lynn Kilgard, Alvin Payton Jr., Randall & Norma Smith, St. John Council of Catholic Women, Southwest Georgia Bank, Unitarian-Universalist Church of Valdosta, Workforce Education Support Team.

Scholars ($24–$119): Bobby & Ann Dasher, Robert & Susan Raffaele, Lauren Sims, Ken & Barbara Stanley, Mr. & Mrs. George Vann.



IMAGINATION LIBRARY CONTRIBUTIONS

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for Lowndes County has a variety of sponsorship opportunities.

Platinum Scholar: $3,000 for 25 children for 5 years (1,500 books)

Gold Scholar: $1,200 for 10 children for 5 years (600 books)

Silver Scholar: $600 for 5 children for 5 years (300 books)

Bronze Scholar: $120 for one child for 5 years (60 books)

Scholar: $24 for one child for 1 year (12 books)

Tax-deductible checks payable to Valdosta Rotary Foundation, with Imagination Library in the memo line, can be mailed to: Valdosta Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 517, Valdosta, Ga., 31603.