President's Corner: Imagination Library more important than ever - and support is needed

After a tumultuous year for parents, teachers, and students alike, United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN)’s Imagination Library has emerged as a critically important at-home early literacy program, needed now more than ever for our local children’s preparation for Kindergarten and school success.

Educators have emphasized that reading with preschool age children is the single most important activity to prepare a child for school – the SINGLE MOST important activity. But, if books are not readily available, if books are out of reach economically, if libraries are closed, or if you are quarantining to keep your family safe, how are families supposed to engage in this critically important activity? I will tell you how: UWNEMN’s Imagination Library.

The Imagination Library program provides enrolled children from birth to age five with free books delivered monthly right to children’s homes. These books are age-appropriate, colorful, and educational. They encourage parents to read with their children, promote early literacy, and help prepare our children for Kindergarten. With these books in their homes, children are more likely to be read to by a parent, increasing their likelihood of success in school.

While some United Ways have not been able to sustain funding for Imagination Library, we at UWNEMN understand the value that this program provides for our local children and our region’s future. We are committed to continuing to provide this needed educational initiative across our service territory. To fulfill this commitment, however, funding is needed to pay for the books, postage, and coordination of this program. 

This month, UWNEMN will be holding our 13th annual Power of the Purse event, and for the first-time ever, it will be held virtually! All proceeds raised from Power of the Purse will benefit UWNEMN’s Imagination Library program in our Iron Range and Koochiching County service territories. Currently, there are more than 2,500 children receiving monthly books through this program. 

While the venue may be different – join us this year from the comfort of your own home – there will still be some of the past participant favorites like live, silent, and “mystery purse” auctions to raise funds to support Imagination Library. With a virtual event, bidding can start earlier (February 24th), and silent auctions and mystery purse auctions will last throughout the weekend. To celebrate in style, join us on Facebook Live at 6 pm February 25th with our Pajama Party hostess, CBS3 Evening Anchor Kristen Vake, as she highlights auction items, announces prize winners, and more.

For the first time ever, registration for this event is FREE! Click HERE register; register before February 25th and be entered to win a $50 Visa gift card and other fun prizes!

I encourage you to register to participate in UWNEMN’s Power of the Purse and to support Imagination Library.  We need our children to have reading resources. We need our children to be prepared for success and for what’s ahead of them in school, and this program is one tool that’s proven effective in making that preparation possible. Please help us keep Imagination Library going in northeastern Minnesota!