Purses for women mean books for children at Women United’s annual fundraiser.

➼ Do you remember that book that you just couldn’t put down because it took you to a place you had never been before? Or maybe your favorite was that classic tale that you couldn’t wait to find out how it would end?

A group of women in the greater Morgantown area is hoping to spur that same sense of excitement and curiosity in children through support of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The project is sponsored by Women United, an affinity group of the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties.

Last year, Women United hosted the inaugural Power of the Purse event to raise funds for the Imagination Library. More than 200 community members attended the event, which featured prizes, food, networking—and designer handbags. Thanks to generous support from sponsors and attendees, the event raised more than $18,000. Those funds provided one book each month for a year to nearly 1,000 kids in Monongalia County.

“As an educator, I can definitely tell the difference in children who have had a book in their hands and those who have been read to before they reach preschool, and those who have not. It makes a tremendous difference in their language development, the vocabulary they have, and the prior knowledge they come to school with,” said Lydotta Taylor, co-chair of Women United. “Supporting our local Dolly Parton Imagination Library not only gives our children an opportunity to improve their comprehension and reading skills, but also encourages a love of reading.”

As a parent of two young children, Ashley Hardesty-Odell is delighted that the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is available in our community. “The more books children have in their homes, the more likely they will develop a love of reading,” says Hardesty-Odell, co-chair of Women United. “I am proud to be a part of Women United and the effort to support the library so that children throughout our community have the opportunity to fill their homes with books.”

The library has grown in the past year to include more than 1,440 children enrolled in the free program.

Those interested in supporting the Imagination Library can do so at a cost of just $25, which provides one book per month to a child enrolled in the program. And mark your calendar to attend this year’s Power of the Purse event, scheduled for June 6. unitedwaympc.org/DPIL


written by Tara Curtis