SPARTANBURG — The United Way of the Piedmont and its partners celebrated an exciting milestone on Saturday, Aug. 24 in downtown Spartanburg. The celebration marked the millionth book that has been given to children in Union and Spartanburg counties since the inception of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.
Zyra Rogers, four years old from Union County, was selected as the recipient of the millionth book. “Llama Llama Time to Share” by Anna Dewdney was proudly presented to Zyra by Marsha Gibbs, a philanthropist and longtime supporter of the Imagination Library program.
The celebration took place at the Denny’s Plaza and included clowns, a magician, several storybook characters, short story awards, games for children and their families, and give-a-way of four tickets to Dollywood. A million books is a lot and to demonstrate exactly how many books that is, Chris Steed, President of the United Way of the Piedmont, explained to the crowd that one million books stacked on top of each other would stretch higher than 53 Denny’s buildings. Interestingly, if one million children’s books were lined up end to end, they would reach 177 miles or approximately the distance from Jonesville, S.C. to Dollywood in Tennessee.
Children enroll in the program for free and receive a free book each month from birth until their fifth birthday. More than 32,000 children have participated in the program, which promotes early literacy and establishing a library of books within every home, since it began in 2001. It costs $30 a year for a child to receive one book a month. The program is supported by donations to the project, and anyone interested in donating to the Imagination Library program can do so by visiting the United Way of the Piedmont’s website www.uwpiedmont.org.
Union County First Steps is a partner in the Imagination Library program for Union County and contributes to the program by providing opportunities for children under age 5 to register for the program and also by participation on the Board of Directors for the Imagination Library Program at the United Way of the Piedmont.