Clarion United Way hits 20,000th book in Imagination Library program

From staff reports

United Way of Clarion County recently reached a major milestone in its six-and-a-half year partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library; 20,000 books have now been mailed to children living in Clarion County.

Recently, an anonymous donor pledged a $10,000 donation and challenged United Way to raise a matching $10,000 from the community to celebrate 20,000 books with $20,000 in donations.

The United Way is planning several events and activities to raise the additional $10,000.

The first of these is a bookmark decorating contest for enrolled children and a Children’s Day at the Mall scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 19. They are reaching out for corporate sponsorships as well as asking for donations from groups, organizations and individuals.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, started in 1995, is a program that sends free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

Today, her program gifts over 2.2 million free books to children each month.

In early 2017, Ashley Luton approached United Way’s Executive Director Melissa Fulton about the program, which she had heard of in her hometown.

Fulton was already in talks with the Tennessee-based branch to replicate the program in Clarion County.

Since then, over 700 children, ages birth to 5 years, have received free books in their mailbox each month in Clarion County. Luton is the committee chairperson and remains a driving force behind the program’s success.

Registration forms can be picked up at any of the following local public libraries: Redbank Valley Public Library, Knox Public Library, Foxburg Free Library, Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library and Clarion Free Library.

For those wishing to get involved with the United Way’s Imagination Library Committee, contact Melissa Fulton at (814) 226-8760 or by email at

Donations can be mailed to United Way of Clarion County PO Box 207, Clarion, PA 16214, or made online at United Way’s website,