BEAVER, Okla. (KAMR/KCIT) – A Beaver, Okla. four-year-old will be one of seven children to meet Dolly Parton, as well as receive a number of goodies alongside a $2,000 donation to their local Imagination Library program, according to the organization, as part of its celebration of gifting 200 million books to children around the world since its start.
As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has worked to mail free, “high-quality” books every month to children from birth to age five, no matter their family’s income. After it launched in 1995, the program had mailed one million books by 2003 and saw expansion across the US, as well as into Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland.
In recognition of the program hitting the milestone of mailing 200 million books, seven Dolly Parton bookmarks were randomly hidden inside books mailed to enrolled families in September 2023. One of those bookmarks, said the program, found its way to four-year-old Austyn Ordonez in Beaver, Okla. Ordonez not only is a member of the Imagination Library program but also checks out 10 books weekly from her local library.
“She reads to her family,” noted Imagination Library representatives, “and even her Barbie dolls.”
Organizers said that Ordonez will be able to meet Parton over Zoom and receive a signed letter and photograph, as well as tickets to Dollywood. Further, a $2,000 donation will be made by the Dollywood Foundation to the area’s Imagination Library program, Tri-County Electric Cooperative.
“I know there are children in communities around the world with big dreams and the seeds of these dreams are often found in books,” said Parton. “It’s been one of my greatest gifts in life to help instill a love of reading through my Imagination Library. Reaching 200 million books worldwide is a major milestone that I’m so very proud of, and I want to thank all of our local program partners, funders and supporters from the bottom of my heart. But we’re just getting warmed up, we have so much more to do! Together, we can inspire even more children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”
Ordonez’s win comes just one year after the Imagination Library program expanded in the state of Oklahoma. As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, the program’s reach expanded in 2022 to Beaver, Cimarron, and Texas counties as well as in sections of Midwest City and Del City.
More information on the Imagination Library program can be found on its official website.