Imagination Library ‘Celebrity Readers’ in county benefit 682 area kids

Apr 28, 2021 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Imagination Library Celebrity Reader Kelsey Keller reads the book “llama llama, gram and grandpa” by Anna Dewdney to a gang of kids at African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton — and also to her other “friends,” a gaggle of llamas, alpacas and guanacos.

Since its fall launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for young readers, United Way in Ottawa County has registered 682 area children for the literacy program that provides free books from a child’s birth up to his or her fifth birthday. Supporting the cause, “Celebrity Readers” across Ottawa County — including educators, librarians and community leaders — have created reading videos of various 2021 Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library titles which may be enjoyed online.

“We are improving children’s literacy levels with Imagination Library,” says United Way Office Manager April Schalk. “Our goal is to register 1,100 children in our second year of operation, which begins in July.”

Young readers, regardless of family income, receive one Imagination Library book mailed every month directly to their homes. Approximately 2,000 Ottawa County children of pre-school age could benefit from Imagination Library.

United Way in Ottawa County continues to partner with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library (OGIL) by administering the program and serving as the conduit for Ottawa County enrollment and direct community donations. Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, the organization raised $9,000 in its startup year.

According to Alison Lanza Falls, Steering Committee Chair, it incurs an annual expense of approximately $25 per child and receives a 50% match from OGIL for all donations raised in Ottawa County, dollar for dollar. By June 30, United Way has set a fundraising goal of approximately $14,100, a much-needed base to secure sustainability of the program for the second year and beyond.

“As the number of registrants increase, so must the operating costs,” said Falls. “Raising young readers in our community is such a worthwhile cause. We have been so blessed with the initial support of many generous area leaders and community organizations, including our Celebrity Readers. We appreciate everyone’s help going forward, as we continue to invest in Ottawa County’s future … our children.”

Celebrity Reader videos may be viewed by accessing them from the United Way in Ottawa County Facebook Page or the reading advocacy site,

To enroll a child in Imagination Library in Ottawa County, visit and click on the “Register Now” tab. To donate click on the “Sponsor a Child” button on the right-hand side of the page.

Checks may also be sent to United Way in Ottawa County, 1854 E. Perry St., Suite 300, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452. Indicate “Designation to Imagination Library in Ottawa County” on the memo line. Questions? Call 419-734-6645 or email:

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