GREENCASTLE -- An organization sponsored by a famous country singer is hoping to bring a youth literacy program to Putnam County.
Pam Hunsaker, a representative of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, gave a presentation at the Putnam County Public Library (PCPL) Wednesday about adding the Imagination Library program to Putnam County.
"About 20,000 kids receive a book in the mail every month because of this program," said Alice Greenburg, the PCPL's director. "There's been discussions in the community about this program for several months. A grant from the Putnam County Community Foundation has made it possible to start the program."
The program would serve the entirety of Putnam County, sending one book each month from birth until their fifth birthday to any child who is signed up for the program. The books, chosen by a council of educators and members of the Dollywood Foundation, are designed to be as age appropriate as possible.
"The first book that every child receives is the 'Little Engine that Could.' Now we know the little engine is not age appropriate for a newborn, but it sets the tone," Hunsaker said. "I think I can. I think I can do anything that I dream. That's Dolly's goal, to have children dream.
"The last book that children receive when they turn five is 'Look out Kindergarten, Here I Come,'" she said.
Parton began the program in her hometown in 2000. She worked to provide the program to any community that would work to fund the Imagination Library program with her organization.
"It's not something that one organization or two can financially support alone. As it takes a village to raise a child, it's going to take a group of committed individuals and organizations to make this a reality in Putnam County," Greenburg said.
The program will cost the community $24 per child, per year, which works out to a cost of $2 for each book.
"None of that (money) goes towards anyone's salary or anything like that," Hunsaker said. "It just goes toward the cost of the books and mailing them. We run on a skeleton staff."
The Friends of the Putnam County Library is one of the groups that have agreed to help generate the necessary funding.
"There are about 1,300 communities that take part in this, and there are probably 1,300 ways to fund it," Hunsaker said.
Greenburg said they were waiting until they had enough money to begin the first year of funding and had enough money pledged for the second year before books are actually sent. A representative of the steering committee that is working to bring the program to Putnam County estimated around $13,000 would be needed for the first two years of the Imagination Library.
"We want to make sure we have enough money to keep it going before we start," Greenburg said.