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Kamille Ward of Marysville pauses for a photo while enjoying one of her new books courtesy of United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Ward is one of 920 children under the age of five receiving a free book every month through United Way’s early childhood literacy program.
20 March 2013
It’s time to play billiards and give Union County children a real shot.

That’s the call to action of United Way’s Women with a Mission Committee, hosting the fourth annual Billiards for Books Tournament. The event begins on Saturday April 6 begins at 1:00 p.m. at Cue Stick Café in Marysville. The tournament is a fundraiser for United Way’s early childhood literacy program, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

Two-player teams who play in the tournament are essentially giving the gift of reading to a Union County child for an entire year. That’s because the $30 team entry fee is about what it costs United Way to mail a book each month each year to every child enrolled in the program.

Over 920 Union County children under the age of five are currently signed up, receiving a free book every month to promote early childhood reading, vocabulary skills, kindergarten readiness, and increased parent-child interaction. The entire program costs about $24,000 a year.

“In recent years, local school districts identified some real needs in terms of kindergarten readiness,” said Barb Nicol, a United Way volunteer who works with families and young children in her job at the Union County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “They’re finding that when children come to get tested to enter kindergarten, some cannot properly identify letters or numbers. They don’t know that you read a book from front to back, or a page from left to right and top to bottom.”

Studies show the program is working. 94% of the children enrolled in the program have an increased interest in books. 89% have increased their language skills. And 81% of the parents say they read more to their kids as a result of the books.

“The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is really a good fit because Dolly buys the books, and that’s the expensive part,” Nicol said. “We pay for the monthly mailing, and that’s a much more manageable share of the cost of the program. The books are delivered directly to the home. It makes it more convenient for parents to read more frequently with their child. And over the course of a year or two, they start to develop their own little library at home that gives them variety and repetition in reading.”

The tournament includes players of all skill levels in a two-player team, 8-ball, Cincinnati style, blind draw, double elimination bracket. Cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50 will be awarded to the first, second, and third place teams. A raffle is also being conducted with many great prizes, including a Las Vegas vacation ($2,200 value), a 2013 Mercedes Pedal Car ($350 value) a golf package to Upper Landsowne, gift baskets, and more.

Corporate sponsorships are still available at levels of $250 and $50.

“The success of the program has come faster and larger than anyone had expected,” said Barb Nicol, the Chair of the Women with a Mission Committee. “In order to continue to make these books available to all of the children in Union County, we have to find a way to financially support the program at the level of success we are experiencing.”

Established by Dolly Parton herself, this program was brought to Union County in 2008 by United Way’s Women with a Mission Committee. Enrollment is open to any Union County child under the age of five. Sign up forms are available at your local library or online at www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org.

The Cue Stick Café is the “County Club of Billiards.” From its full-service menu to the separate billiards room with four Diamond tables, Cue Stick Café has lots to offer in a fun, clean, and safe environment.

For more information about Billiards for Books or the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, please call United Way at (937) 644-8381 or visit www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org.
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