United Way of Southwest Minnesota is a recipient of a $1,500 grant from Nobles-Murray Rural Electric Trust’s Operation RoundUp program. The Operation RoundUp program is supported by the member-owners of Nobles Electric Cooperative as a way to strengthen local communities and programs in the cooperative’s service territory. The Operation RoundUp grant will support children ages birth to five in the Nobles Electric Cooperative’s service territory that are registered for Imagination Library.
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, United Way of Southwest Minnesota 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.
United Way of Southwest Minnesota supports children in the following school districts: Balaton, Canby, Clarkfield, Dawson/Boyd, Echo, Fulda, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Tracy, Walnut Grove-Westbrook, and Yellow Medicine East. Generally, the cost is $30 per child per year. United Way of Southwest Minnesota is the local affiliate for more than 2,350 children each month.