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Power of the Purse to benefit county’s Imagination Library

Posted on April 5, 2019

The United Way of Union County will host its annual Power of the Purse fundraiser at the Granite Club in El Dorado beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Union County, which provides ageappropriate books on a monthly basis to children from birth to age 5. Executive Director Alexis Alexander said there’s more than 1,300-1,400 children enrolled in the local program, with over 2,000 having graduated out. The program is offered to families at no cost because of fundraising, specific donations and a trust.

The event will feature a fashion show provided by local merchants, a silent auction, which includes designer purses and other items, heavy hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine along with entertainment provided by singer Emily Cole. Tickets for the event are $35 and tickets for a raffle of a COACH purse are also available for $5 each.

The Imagination Library costs $25 per child each year, but is done at no cost to families because of United Way’s involvement. Alexander said buying a ticket for the Power of the Purse can provide a child in Union County with books for a year.

AlexanderhelpedbringtheImagination Library to Union County seven years ago. She said the biggest complaint she’s heard about the program is that it stops at age 5. Alexander started the program because there weren’t very many places in Arkansas participating in the program and she saw a real need for it in Union County.

“I’ve had so many parents that say ‘oh, my child was so disappointed that they weren’t going to the mailbox anymore to get these books,’” Alexander said. “I told them that they can go to school to get books, or the library to get books. Now they know and have that love of reading and know what it’s like to hold that in their hand and turn the page and point at the picture. It gets them started early.”

Each month, participating families from across the country get a book in the mail based on their child’s age. For instance, younger participants would receive cardboard books with plenty of pictures, but as they get older, the books would have more words and fewer pictures. The program also has certain themes such as antibullying.

The book list changes each year and the Dollywood Foundation works with doctors and educators to help pick out the books that are best for specific age groups.

“Not all communities are as fortunate as we are,” Alexander said. “My mom was a teacher and I always had books in my home. Sometimes she had time to read to me and sometimes she didn’t, but because we had that available, she fostered my love of reading. Not everybody has that same opportunity. Not everybody has their own library, but with this program we can get books into the hands of kids and their parents for free right to their mailbox so they’re not even having to go out and search for them.”

Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.