Imagination Library benefits more than 650 area children

Press Staff Writer

        Since its fall launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for young readers, United Way in Ottawa County has registered 653 area children for the literacy program that provides free books for children from birth through age 5.
        “We are improving children’s literacy levels with Imagination Library,” says United Way Office Manager, April Schalk. “Our goal is to register 1,100 children in our second year of operation, which begins in July.”
        Approximately 2,000 Ottawa County preschoolers could eventually benefit from Imagination Library. Each young reader, regardless of family income, receives one book mailed every month, directly to his or her home. United Way in Ottawa County continues to partner with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library (OGIL) by administering the program and serving as the conduit for Ottawa County enrollment and direct community donations.
        Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, the United Way in Ottawa County raised $9,000 in its startup year. According to Alison Lanza Falls, Steering Committee Chair, it incurs an annual expense of approximately $25 per child and receives a 50% match from OGIL for all donations raised in Ottawa County, dollar for dollar. By June 30, 2021, United Way has set a fundraising goal of approximately $14,100, a much-needed base to secure sustainability of the program for the second year and beyond.
        “As the number of registrants increases, so must the operating costs, and raising young readers in our community is such a worthwhile cause,” Falls said. “We have been so blessed with the initial support of many generous area leaders and community organizations. We appreciate their help, going forward, as we continue to invest in Ottawa County’s future – our children.”
        In recent weeks, “celebrity readers” across Ottawa County — including educators, librarians and community leaders — have created reading videos of various 2021 Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library titles. Videos are accessible from the United Way in Ottawa County Facebook page or the reading advocacy site,     
        To enroll a child in Imagination Library in Ottawa County, visit and click on the “Register Now” tab. To donate, click on the “Sponsor a Child” button on the right-hand side of the page. Checks may also be sent to United Way in Ottawa County, 1854 E. Perry St, Suite 300, Port Clinton, OH 43452. Indicate “Designation to Imagination Library in Ottawa County” on the memo line.
        Call 419-734-6645 or email for more details.


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