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Fruit of the Loom Makes More Than $65K Investment in the Future of Local Children




Fruit of the Loom, Inc., hosted its 19th annual charity golf tournament September 15th at Crosswinds Golf Course in Bowling Green, KY. More than 100 Fruit of the Loom, Inc., vendors and employees participated in the event, which raised more than $65,500 for United Way of Southern Kentucky’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program. The program puts books in the hands of local children to assist in fostering a love for reading and therefore better preparing children for Kindergarten. All children from newborn to age five are eligible to register into the program in the county in which it is offered. Once registered, each child will receive one age-appropriate book mailed directly to their home each month until the age of 5.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library was initiated in east Tennessee in 1995 by Dolly Parton. Since its inception, over 103 million books have been distributed to children across four countries. Recognizing the need to strengthen and support early literacy efforts and to ensure all young children get the best start possible, United Way of Southern Kentucky brought Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Southern Kentucky in 2011. Support of the Imagination Library from generous contributions like those made by Fruit of the Loom help to ensure that children in our communities have access to books, thereby increasing their chance for future success. Thus far, more than 228,000 books have been mailed to 10,146 children across Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Warren Counties.

This year’s tournament total brings the five-year total donated to the program by the annual tournament of more than $325,000. This generosity has allowed for the opportunity for more than 2,500 children across Southern Kentucky to be enrolled into the program who are now receiving books in the mail to their homes once per month. With the money raised this year, over 500 more children will have the opportunity to also be enrolled in the program to begin receiving books.

“Fruit of the Loom is committed to supporting the communities in which our associates live and work,” said Tony Pelaski, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Fruit of the Loom, Inc. “The Imagination Library is one of many programs to improve educational opportunities for children in our community. We are proud to be associated with such a meaningful cause. We are grateful for the many employees and sponsors that gave so graciously to the tournament to make this donation possible.”

“Through the generosity and support of Fruit of the Loom and the many participants in their annual charity golf tournament, more than 2,500 children have been enrolled into the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program in the past four years. And hundreds more will benefit from this weekend’s event. It equates to more than 3,000 children who have access to books in their home to help build a literacy rich environment. And that in turn is increasing kindergarten readiness in our area,” says Debbie Hills, President & CEO of United Way of Southern Kentucky. “We thank Fruit of the Loom for their commitment to United Way and to our community. Their efforts are truly changing lives and building a stronger community for generations to come.”

The Imagination Library program increases the accessibility of age-appropriate books in all households. The first book mailed to each child is “The Little Engine That Could” and upon graduating the program, the month the child turns 5, they receive “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.” When age-appropriate books are accessible in the home, children gain an appreciation for reading and are better prepared for kindergarten. The program is designed to build a stronger community by ensuring all children have access to the essential tools to build stronger literacy skills.

The Imagination Library program also encourages early reading, which is essential for language and cognitive development in young children. Research shows access to age-appropriate reading materials in low-income households is severely insufficient. According to national data, 75 percent of children who are reading below grade level in third grade will remain behind in high school. In addition, children from low-income families are three times more likely to have dropped out of school or be unemployed by the ages of 16-19 because of the educational barriers they encounter. By giving children from all socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to develop necessary early learning skills, they are getting a boost towards lifelong education success.

Support of programs like United Way’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program is just one way that United Way is working to reach its Big Bold Goal in Education of increasing BRADD Kindergarten Readiness scores from 53.3% to 75% by the year 2020.

For more information about United Way’s work in Education and how you can join the fight to give all children in Southern Kentucky the best start for a successful future, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.

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