For The Love of Reading

Beckley Rotary Club and Imagination Library

In February 2023, the Beckley Rotary Club launched a new initatiave focused on early childhood literacy. “For the Love of Reading”, a project to support enrollment for Raleigh County’s Imagination Library, originates with Tom and Salley Lemke, co-chairs of the club’s Rotary Foundation. The Lemke’s wrote a district grant that was later awarded to the club. These funds, along with those raised by the club and club members, are used in collaboration with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an international non-profit.

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started her imagination Library in 1995 for children within her home town of Sevierville, TN. Today, her program spans five countries and gifts over one million free books each month to children around the world. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library levels the planning field for all children by helping them build a home library of their very own and encouraging increased interaction with caregivers around books and reading.

When enrolled in the program, children receive a book a month from enrollment through age five. Children enrolled at birth would received a total of 60 books that they can add to their library. Early exposure to books and reading ensures children are prepared for kindergarten.

The club’s goal is for every baby born in Raleigh County to be enrolled in this free program. Currently, only 42% of eligible children within the county are enrolled. Raleigh General Hospital, along with the Delta Kappa Gamma society and Shady Spring Library, are partnering with the Beckley Rotary Clube to increase the number of eligible children enrolled and to provide funds to offset the cost of postage for books send throughout the county.

How to Get Involved

There are two ways to get involved in the “For the Love of Reading” initiative: 

Donate a Book and your Time 

If you’d like to donate new or gently loved books to be distributed to new mom’s and infants at Raleigh General Hospital, you can do so by dropping books off by March 2, 2023 at the Stewards Individual Placements office, located at 330 Harper Park Drive, Suite I in Beckley. Volunteers will meet at the Stewards office on Saturday, March 4th at 10:00am, to clean the books and add a book plate in each donated book. 

Donate Funds Toward Imagination Library Book Shipping

While the Imagination Library funds all of the wonderful books sent to children across Appalachia, the US, and abroad, donations for postage costs are always appreciated and often ensure these books make it to any family who wishes to participate. Currently all 55 West Virginia Counties have children participating in this program. The Beckley Rotary Club hopes you’ll consider donating funds to support the postage costs of a child in Raleigh County. With the $3,000 district grant and a $1,500 donation from the club, an additional $1,500 is needed to meet the requirements of the grant and support postage for all Imagination Library kids throughout the county. The Club hopes to meet and exceed that goal. 

To donate funds to support Raleigh County children, ‘For The Love of Reading’:

Donations are requested on or before February 28, 2023.