St. Marys residents fundraising for children's book program launched by Dolly Parton – The Beacon Herald

A grassroots fundraising effort recently launched in St. Marys is providing local families access to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a charitable program the world famous country music star has established to deliver free books to children younger than five.
A grassroots fundraising effort recently launched in St. Marys is providing local families access to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a charitable program the world famous country music star has established to deliver free books to children younger than five.
“If you talk to any educator, kids who come to school reading books already, they have an advantage,” said Chantal Lynch, the owner of Hyggeligt Fabrics on Queen Street East. “Early literacy is an important foundation for future success. Bringing this program to St. Marys will create a love of reading at an early age for our local children.”
A part of Parton’s not-for-profit Dollywood Foundation, the Imagination Library launched in Toronto in 2006 and has since expanded across the country, according to the program’s Canadian website. 
Much like its American predecessor, the library offers children enrolled one free book per month from a selection of Canadian authors and illustrators that gets updated every year.
In order to sustain the program in St. Marys for as many children as possible, Lynch signed up to become an official program partner and asked another local resident, Dennis DesRosiers, and the Stratford Perth Community Foundation for fundraising help.
“When I explained the program to Dennis, he was extremely supportive, and I was thrilled when he wanted to be involved,” Lynch said. 
It costs about $250 for each child registered in the program to receive 12 books per year from birth to age five. 
Lynch and DesRosiers are challenging community members to make $250 donations to their campaign, and they’re willing to chip in, too. DesRosiers has agreed to match those donations while Lynch is offering to donate a portion of the proceeds from each sale of the children’s quilting kits she offers at her downtown fabric store.
In the meantime, the pair has also set up an endowment fund with the Stratford Perth Community Foundation that can also help support the Imagination Library in St. Marys through investment earnings. 
“Directing all donations there just made sense for what we wanted to accomplish,” DesRosiers said. “In the end, it’s the children of St. Marys that will benefit from the generosity of our community.”
The Community Foundation is “honoured” to help, said Heidi Culliton, its executive director.
“We are grateful to Chantal and Dennis for investing locally and inspiring young children to love to read,” she said. “Through the gift of books, the St. Marys Imaginary Library Fund will help spark the imagination and dreams of local children for generations.”
More information is available online at stmarysimaginationlibrary.com.
Families and caregivers in St. Marys and the surrounding area can register for the program during the fundraising effort. Eligible children must live in the N4X area code, Lynch said.
Seven children are already receiving books.
“We’re pretty excited,” Lynch said.
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