Wolverine Mutual donates to United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library

Published 7:51 am Wednesday, April 3, 2019

DOWAGIAC — For some, there are few childhood memories as strong as the thrill of opening the pages of a new book and getting lost in the story within.

Now, Dowagiac children can have that experience sent straight to their homes, thanks to donations made by local entities.

Dowagiac’s Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company recently donated $3,500 to United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which gives Dowagiac children, from birth to 5 years of age, access to free, age-appropriate books, mailed to their homes every month, to help increase children’s readiness for kindergarten. The McLoughlin Family Foundation also donated $5,000 to the project, which brought United Way to its goal of $12,500.

“We try to contribute [in this community] in many ways,” said Jim Laing, president of Wolverine Mutual. “The community has been good to us, and we want to keep contributing.”

According to United Way representatives, funding from local sources has made the Dolly Parton Imagination Library possible.

In October 2018, United Way received a lead gift of $4,000 from Lyons Industries. The remaining gift from Wolverine and McLoughlin helped United Way reach its goal, which will help grow the reading program in Dowagiac to impact 100 total newborns for five full years, according to Ryan Cheevers, a United Way representative.

The funding from United Way helps provide the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program at no cost to any child residing in Berrien or Cass counties regardless of financial need. The actual cost to provide the program to the community is about $25 per child, per year.

“When the opportunity presented itself to participate with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library initiative two of our members had personal experience with the program and thought it was one of the finest things we could be involved in,” said Emily McLoughlin, of the McLoughlin Family Foundation. “One of our foundation’s key objectives is to provide opportunities to children that they would otherwise not have.  This certainly fits that criteria.”

For Laing, the opportunity to give to the project was an opportunity to provide local children the same experience he had growing up — surrounded by books.

“Reading is such an important part of the world, and you really can’t read enough,” Laing said. “In many ways, it doesn’t matter what you read. Reading opens up your mind. We are in a small town, and the more we can expose children to reading, the better.”

Individuals or organizations interested in donating to United Way to support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library can contact Sharon Polfus at Sharon.polfus@uwsm.org or (269) 932-3455.