OP Women’s Club raises $5310 for Dolly Parton Imagination Library – Clay Today Online | Team Cansler

By Kylie Cordell for Clay Today

ORANGE PARK — The Orange Park Women’s Club presented a $5,310 check to the Delta Kappa Gamma Teachers’ Fraternity to fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library project in Clay County.

Parton’s project provides free books to children from birth to 5 years old. Registration is free and can be done at the hospital when a child is born or online at Imaginationlibrary.com.

“You can fill in your information and then you’ll be told it’s available in your area and directed you in the direction of online registration,” said Sandy Keller, the Slub’s communications officer.

The program is already available in Green Cove Springs and has recently become available in the 32073 ZIP Code, which includes Orange Park, Lakeside and Argyle Forest. Spreading the love of education and literacy has been one of many key aspects of the Orange Park Women’s Club, a voluntary non-profit organization and member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

“The women’s club was responsible for starting library services in the community,” Keller said. “So the library is a very old part of the women’s club’s mission. That is why this project is so important. It has truly been a lifelong organizational journey in support of education and libraries.”

Gale Miller, the chair of the Community Service Program for Education and Libraries, agreed.

“Originally in Orange Park, we helped establish the library system here, so it’s really a legacy that we’re carrying on.” After establishing more than 474 public libraries and 4,655 traveling libraries in the 1930s, the American Library Association writes the GFWC Foundation of 75% of America’s public libraries. In the 21st century, libraries continue to be an important part of our communities, as shown by a 2013 poll in which 90% of Americans ages 16 and older said closing their local public library would impact their community. Literacy is also a catalyst for participation in social, cultural, political and economic activities and for lifelong learning.

“Introducing children to books is so important to education. It predicts how they will do in school, and if they do well in school, it opens doors to success in life,” Miller said.

According to First Reader Statistics, most brain growth occurs between birth and age 5. By age 2, children who read regularly show better language comprehension, larger vocabulary, and higher cognitive abilities than their peers.

“Personally, I think it’s a great program and I think it’s helping our community and our schools, and hopefully it will help bring out contributors in the workforce and in the community,” Miller said.

“We want to teach children the joy of reading,” says Keller.

Not only does the program give children a head start in expanding their vocabulary and building independence and confidence, but early access to books helps children make sense of the world around them, build social-emotional skills and of course, imagination.

“Any county can partner with the Dolly Parton Imagination library by signing up and pledging a certain amount of money to help pay for the shipping of those books to that particular area,” Keller said.

“But the real goal is to see that across the country,” Miller said.

Green Cove Springs was the first to be chosen for the program because the organization felt it had the greatest need for literacy among young children.

“But we also want to support Orange Park, so we ran a fundraiser to bring these books to Orange Park,” Keller said.

To support the efforts of students, teachers and parents, community organizations raised donations to cover the cost of shipping $25 per year for each child at the Orange Park Women’s Club’s annual rummage sale.

“People call us all year round to donate to the annual sale. Over $5,000 was raised. We’ve also received donations outside of junk sales,” Keller said.

If you would like to support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, contact the Orange Park Women’s Club. The committee meets on the first Thursday of each month at Kingsley Ave. 130. Women seeking an opportunity to make a difference and give back to the community are invited to visit orangeparkwomensclub.com for more information. Donations to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library can also be made to the Clay Education Foundation.

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