The United Way of Aroostook will be sending out its 50,000th free book to a preschool-age child in northern Maine in the coming month through the Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. 

Courtesy of ACAP

That milestone was celebrated Tuesday, and a new challenge that looks to expand the program at the ACAP Early Care and Education Center in Presque Isle.

The Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a nation-wide initiative that launched locally in 2010. Each month the program puts a new book in the hands of families with children from birth to age five at no cost to them.

"Our dream of providing books to all the children of Aroostook is becoming a reality one registration form at a time," said Sherry Locke, executive director of UWA.  "I am so thankful that we are able to offer this program to all children living in Aroostook County.  Sending 50,000 books is just an amazing milestone for us, as we grow this program we are strengthening children, families and our communities."

Locke, other United Way officials and leaders with ACAP were joined for the announcement by representatives of the County's four hospitals and four area civic organizations who have supported the project over the past few years. TAMC, Cary Medical Center, Houlton Regional Hospital and Northern Maine Medical Center, along with the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club, Presque Isle, Mars Hill, and Caribou Rotary Clubs were all acknowledged for their support of the project.

“Today, with the support of the hospitals and additional funding from the four community organizations, the program continues to thrive and we are sending nearly 1,900 books to the children of Aroostook and 700 children have graduated from the program," Locke said.

Courtesy of ACAP

With the partnership of the four County hospitals who are helping to sign-up families before the mother is discharged after delivering her baby, the number of newborns, one- and two-year-olds enrolled in the project has grown substantially.  The numbers drop off with three- and four-year-olds, which is where Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP) is pleased to step in.

“Early literacy is an important component of ACAP Family Services, said assistant director Jamie Chandler.  “We introduce literacy concepts though our curriculum and work with families to extend those lessons beyond our doors and into their homes…We are challenging all of our friends and colleagues in child care and preschool education here in Aroostook County to join us and do the same so that together we can get as many County children, under the age of five, as possible enrolled in this wonderful program."

ACAP currently serves 335 children through its Early Care and Education programs across Aroostook County.

Sign up your child to receive free books through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.


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