Granite Falls Kiwanis Invest in Stuff the Bus & Imagination Library

The Kiwanis Club of Granite Falls is a strong supporter of United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN). They recently donated $750 to UWSWMN to support the Stuff the Bus initiative and $750 to support the Imagination Library book program.

The purpose of the Stuff the Bus initiative is to provide local K-12 students with the basic tools needed to learn and be successful, thereby allowing them to focus on their academic goals. This initiative is a service area wide effort that engages numerous volunteers.  Collection barrels and containers are placed at various locations throughout the area. Local workplaces hold collection drives and are provided with specific supply goals to raise. UWSWMN staff then determines what supplies will need to be purchased to fulfill the need based on data received from the schools and trends from past years.  In 2020, we provided 52,075 school supplies helping 3,500 students.

In 1996, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program was launched to benefit the children of her home county (Sevier) in East Tennessee. Dolly's vision was to foster a love of reading among her county's preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to their home, she wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. This program would also ensure that every child would have access to books in their home, regardless of their family’s income.

The program became so popular that in the year 2000 Parton announced that she would make the program available to any community that was willing to partner with her and to financially support their own program locally. In 2005, UWSWMN became the local affiliate for the region. The program is free to families with children under the age of five in qualifying counties, but is dependent on donations to fund the cost of the books and delivery. Generally, the cost is $30 per child per year. UWSWMN is the local affiliate for more than 2,300 children each month.

UWSWMN supports children in the following school districts: Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy, Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Yellow Medicine East.