Free books. United Way. Dolly Parton. Kickball. Things seldom get sunnier…
In Spring Hill, United Way of Hernando County’s 6th Annual “KICK” Start to Early Literacy Kickball Tournament will be hosted safely at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 27. The game will be played outdoors at Anderson Snow Park–with extra safety precautions in place due to COVID-19.
“This competitive community event helps provide thousands of books every year to children enrolled in United Way of Hernando County’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library program,” said Angie B. Walasek, United Way of Hernando County’s Executive Director/CEO in a related news release. “Every participant’s registration fee sponsors one child on the program for a full year. With 14 teams participating in February 2020’s tournament, we were able to enroll over 200 additional Hernando preschool children and mail out 2,400 extra books last year. That’s why we knew it was so important to continue on with this event in 2021.”
Masks will be provided to all volunteers and participants, hand sanitizing stations will be available and temperatures will be taken.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library, according to the organizational website, “is a book gifting program that gifts free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland… Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county.”
Today, Parton’s program spans five countries and gifts more than 1 million free books monthly to children across the globe (https://imaginationlibrary.com/). And through a partnership between the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and United Way of Hernando County, free books have made their way into the hands of nearly 150,000 children in the last decade.
“United Way of Hernando County has funded the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) program in Hernando County for over 10 years. Since 2009, United Way’s DPIL program has mailed 143,307 books to preschool-aged Hernando Children completely free,” said Dominique Holmes, Community Outreach Director of United Way of Hernando County.
In support of this program on March 27th, 16 teams and their celebrity coaches will be competing for the Ultimate Traveling Trophy; one that will crown them as the 2021 Kickball Champions.
“United Way’s Annual “KICK” Start to Early Literacy Kickball Tournament started 6 years ago to increase enrollment for their Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. This fun community event has grown substantially over the past 6 years that so many great companies compete to grab one of the 16 allotted spots for a kickball team,” said Holmes. “Between the competitive spirit, mascot fun run, great food and prizes, and surprise local celebrity coaches, this event is a great family fun day to enjoy!”
All proceeds from this tournament will benefit United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which provides more than 1,000 Hernando children with a free book every month until the age of five. The books are mailed to these kids regardless of their family’s economic status. Sponsorships are available for individuals or businesses interested in investing in a child’s future; for more information, contact the United Way office today at (352) 688-2026, visit https://www.unitedwayhernando.org/contact-us or email [email protected].
“It is our mission to ensure that every child can grow their very own library of books, regardless of their family’s income. That’s why it’s so important to continue to support this program so children can be prepared and continue to receive the educational tools needed for a great start in kindergarten,” said Angie B. Walasek, United Way of Hernando County’s Executive Director/CEO.
Volunteers are needed for this tournament. Sign up on Lend a Hand Hernando to aid with scorekeeping, or to work at the raffle table to help give away fun prizes. For more information, visit www.UnitedWayHernando.org/Kickball or call the United Way office at 352-688-2026.
Send your good news notices to Megan Hussey at [email protected].