Dolly Parton is well-known for her musical talents, but her most ardent fans all agree that her heart far surpasses her voice.
Parton has a large charitable organization called the Dollywood Foundation that has allowed her to be involved with numerous causes over the years. None of them have grown bigger than her Imagination Library.
The Imagination Library aims to foster a love of education in young children by mailing them a free, quality book each month from the day they are born until they are old enough to start attending school. A household’s income has no bearing on whether any child qualifies for the program.
The Imagination Library recently celebrated a major milestone when Parton personally donated a copy of her children’s book, Coat of Many Colors, to the Library of Congress. It was the 100 millionth book donated by the charitable organization.
Parton founded the non-profit in 1995 to help children in her hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. The charity’s first major milestone, one million books donated, was celebrated in 2003. The program soon proved so popular that it was taken state-wide in 2004.
The program went international in 2006 when Canada signed on, soon followed by the United Kingdom in 2007 and Australia in 2013. Today, the program distributes an estimated 1 million books to children each month. These expansion efforts allowed Parton to donate the program’s 25 millionth book in 2010.
The Imagination Library accepts funding from a variety of sources. Individuals who share the program’s vision may donate directly on the website listed above. Tennessee residents may also purchase special Dolly Parton license plates from the state’s DMV to show their support for the organization. Finally, Parton’s children’s album, titled I Believe In You, donated all proceeds to the Imagination Library.
Parton started the Imagination Library as a tribute to her father. She believes that he was a very smart man, but grew up in the country where he had to help out around the house instead of attending school. This prevented him from getting the education Parton felt all children deserve, according to People.com. She believes that basic literacy allows children to “self-educate” if circumstances ultimately prevent their attending school.
Parton also has charitable interests beyond her Imagination Library. She hosted a three-hour telethon to help Tennessee residents who lost everything in the wildfires that plagued the area in late-2016. The event proved extremely successful, ultimately allowing Parton to surprise over 900 families with an extra $10,000.
Her Dollywood Foundation also launched a new initiative called My People Fund in late 2016 to help her neighbors overcome the fires. This program provided a stipend of $1,000 per month to Sevier County fire victims until they could get back on their feet.
Furthermore, Parton pledged $3 million to launch another fund called the Mountain Tough Recovery. It is a partnership between Sevier County leaders and the cities of Sevierville, Pigeonforge, and Gatlinburg to help wildfire victims get the employment opportunities, counseling, and housing they need to overcome the disaster.
Parton has also made a special guest appearance on the popular children’s program Sprout House to speak out against bullying. She also performed some of the songs on her children’s album for the show.
As a private tutoring service, we are blown away by Dolly’s contribution to education! Our reading and writing tutors have stated that getting students interested in reading at a young age will give them a head start to success.