Like many charitable organizations during COVID-19 times, the Fraser Valley Imagination Library has had to pivot from traditional event fundraising to something new.
They have announced their Country Christmas online auction for Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison, and Hope, which will give people the opportunity to shop from home. It will go live on Nov. 20 and run until Dec. 3.
Demand for the early literacy program is greater than ever, as parents look to engage children restricted by social distancing measures. “We couldn’t be happier that kids are reading,” said Brian Martin, who partnered with the Optimist Club of Chilliwack and the Dollywood Foundation to bring the program to Chilliwack.
“But funding is scarce. We are totally dependent on individual donors, service clubs and local businesses, many of whom are also struggling.”
The early literacy program provides high quality, age appropriate books for participating children. Books are sent directly to the child’s home at no cost to the parents. Children are eligible from birth until age five.
“But we are about more than books – we really are a school-readiness program,” Martin explains. “When parents and caregivers read to their children, it exposes them to a larger, more diverse vocabulary and greater variety of sentence structures, than just talking to them.”
He adds that children develop concepts of print, alphabetic knowledge, phonological awareness, and improved memory – all essential skills leading to school readiness and future academic success. With regular reading, parents are supporting their child’s cognitive development during the crucial years. In fact, 95 per cent of a child’s brain development occurs before age five.
More than 75 per cent of teachers believe that Imagination Library graduates performed better in school than their peers. And 97 per cent of parents believed that their child will be better prepared for school after having participated in the Imagination Library. One study showed that 60 per cent of kindergartners (in neighborhoods where children did poorly in school) did not own a single book. The Imagination Library received a coveted Best Practise Award from the U.S. Library of Congress for addressing social barriers to literacy.
The investment for a newborn child is $213 for 60 books.
“Every dollar raised from the auction will be used to pay for books and shipping,” Martin says. “Thanks to the Dollywood Foundation there are no overhead costs – just a small group of committed volunteers working all year long.”
Auction bidders will find a wide range of items available and even a few surprises. Dolly Parton provided an autographed copy of her book Coat of Many Colours based on her signature song.
k.d. lang sent an autographed copy of her Ingenue Album (25th Anniversary Edition), and there is an autographed cookbook from Loretta Lynn, known as the first lady of country music.
They hope to raise $5,000 to $8,000 to enroll 70 local children on a waiting list and notify them before Christmas.
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