Thousands of books on sale in Decatur event

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – United Way of Central Illinois has been anonymously gifted $70,000 in support of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library helps children become kindergarten ready by sending them one book a month in the mail until they turn five years old at no cost to the families.

"We're excited to help all the children of our community have the opportunity to begin reading and learning before they start formal schooling," said the anonymous donors.

The anonymous gift will allow over 700 children to be removed from the waitlist and receive their first book in February.

Since launching the program in 2011, Sangamon County has mailed out more than 160,943 books, serving more than 6,835 kids.

The program costs roughly around $26 per child per year or $130 for all five years when registered at birth.

"This gift, especially now, is much needed to be able to continue offering this program in Sangamon County," said John Kelker, President of United Way of Central Illinois. "Dolly Parton's Imagination Library guarantees access to books and inspires parents to read to their children. This simple task has a big impact on a child."

United Way will be hosting a celebration in honor of the anonymous gift and Read Across America Day, the week of Mar. 1.

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