A life-sized cutout of Dolly Parton at the top of the Jinkerson stairs in Chilliwack, in June 2020. The cutout is being used to help promote her literacy organization, Imagination Library, and the Fraser Valley chapter’s Christmas in July campaign. (Submitted/ Chilliwack Progress)

A life-sized cutout of Dolly Parton at the top of the Jinkerson stairs in Chilliwack, in June 2020. The cutout is being used to help promote her literacy organization, Imagination Library, and the Fraser Valley chapter’s Christmas in July campaign. (Submitted/ Chilliwack Progress)

Imagination Library Fraser Valley celebrating Christmas in July

Dolly Parton early literacy intiative looking for financial support to help with waitlist

The one-and-only Dolly Parton has been popping up around Chilliwack over the past while.

She isn’t saying much, but that big, bright smile has been seen at the Jinkerson Stairs, in local stores, and even on a popular Facebook page. And everywhere she goes, she’s reading a children’s book.

That’s because this Dolly is actually a life-size cut-out being used to promote Imagination Library, an early literacy program headed up by the infamous country star herself. And since she can’t make it to the thousands of communities across North America that have an affiliate, the people at Imagination Library Fraser Valley decided to have some fun.

They moved her around town to help promote the program, and especially to encourage people to donate during a local Christmas in July campaign.

Bradley Gionet joined the advisory committee for the Imagination Library Fraser Valley a few months ago. He is also the brains behind Coronaoke, which encouraged people to share songs of themselves singing while in isolation. He had been looking for ways to boost the collective community spirit, as well as support struggling local businesses and organizations.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gionet decided to spread the joy of giving by launching a community-wide Christmas in July campaign.

READ MORE: Imagination Library celebrating one year with fundraiser

“After a difficult year for so many, I decided we needed two Christmases,” he says. “I have three asks. Honour your family Christmas traditions. Shop in real local brick and mortar businesses for any gift giving or personal purchases. Support local charity or not for profit initiatives as you are able.”

The Imagination Library Fraser Valley currently has 64 kids on the wait list to join the program, which gives them free books once a month. The cost to fund the waiting list is $7,300, and they are hoping to raise $15,000 this year.

The Dollywood Foundation covers the infrastructure costs to support the program (book selection, negotiating printing costs, planning, allocation and book distribution etc.). Local affiliates are responsible to fundraise for the cost of books and shipping (our average cost is $3.55 per book including postage).

“We have noticed an increase in applications across the country since COVID-19 took hold,” says board member Brian Martin. “We believe this is because traditional elementary education has been thrown into turmoil, with plans uncertain for a full return in the fall. Parents are looking for additional ways to occupy their children and suspect a return to traditional activities – like reading – are gaining traction.”

Research has shown that participating children are better prepared for kindergarten when they are read to on a regular basis, he adds. That leads to better success in early grades, and so forth.

“It’s a long game strategy to provide all kids with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances if they come from a less advantaged household,” Martin says.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Fraser Valley provides free books for children from birth to 5 years old. Every month, an age appropriate book will arrive instilling excitement around reading and learning. One of the books given away in the past was Counting on Snow by local author and illustrator Max Newhouse.

Locally, they cover Hope through Chilliwack including Harrison, Agassiz, Rosedale, Cultus and Sardis.

Donations can now be accepted online here: https://imaginationlibrary.com/ca/affiliate/BCFRASERVALLEY/

READ MORE: Newhouse’s counting book added to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BooksEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

Cory Silbernagel makes his acceptance speech after receiving the Community Advocate award during the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce 2020 Chilliwack Champion awards on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce)
Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce awards recognize businesses, individuals after unprecedented year

‘Positive acts’ honoured during Business Excellence Awards - Chilliwack Champions Edition

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read