Mike McCombs

Dolly’s Imagination Library comes to Beaufort


By Mike McCombs

If you’re paying attention, it’s really hard not to like Dolly Parton these days. 

In fact, it’s fair to say a lot of people would tell you that if you don’t like Dolly, it’s a “you” problem, not a “Dolly” problem. 

Just over the past year or so, Parton has made news for two really good deeds she’s done. 

In late 2020, Parton made a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University’s medical school for research that resulted in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the most effective of the COVID vaccines so far. 

And in August, her Dollywood Foundation donated $700,000 to residents of areas of Middle Tennessee impacted by heavy flooding. 

“I’m kind of addicted to the feeling of giving,” Parton told People magazine, which named her one of their People of the Year for 2021 (unlike Time magazine, which chose Elon Musk for its “Man of the Year”). “Knowing that I’m doing something good for someone else.” 

If these don’t seem like much, a Google search should reveal a list of Parton’s good deeds of the past 20 years or so on a list compiled and updated by Billboard magazine. 

But the cherry on top of Parton’s charity sundae, and the most personal endeavor for her, is her Imagination Library. 

And according to an email from the Beaufort County Public Library earlier this month, Beaufort County children, until now unable to benefit from Parton’s gift, are finally eligible to participate. 

Parton, inspired and saddened by her own father’s inability to read, in 1995 started the Imagination Library for the children in her home county of Sevier in Tennessee. 

What started as a local outreach is just now beginning to reach around the world. The effort now spans five countries – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia – and distributes more than a million books each month. 

The premise is simple. With the help of local sponsors, Parton’s Imagination Library delivers a book by mail every month to eligible children from birth until they reach the age of 5. 

As of Tuesday night, there were 1,923,253 children registered in the program. And 170,824,458 books have been delivered. 

Bluffton’s LowCounty Community Church signed on as Imagination Library’s local partner for all of Beaufort County. So far, there are 1,360 children covered by this partner. 

To register your child, simply go to lowcountrycc.org/imaginationlibrary and complete the process. I urge every parent of small children to take advantage of this opportunity. Once registered, families can expect their first book within 90 days.

As for that first book, it will be The Little Engine That Could. Trust me, I know. I have two children who couldn’t wait for their books from Dolly each month in the mail.

Both of my kids love to read. And it’s a benefit and an asset that never goes away. Through reading, children learn, they dream and they experience. They learn how to empathize and to think for themselves.

And a love of reading will suit them well when they grow up. They will never stop learning, they will never stop dreaming, they will never stop thinking for themselves.

For those parents who otherwise would not have books around the house or who are teaching English as a second language, they will be one step closer to instilling a good habit in their children. And all they will have to have done would be to take the few minutes it will take to fill out a form on a website.

Just one more reason to love Dolly.

Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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