Daily Reporter staff reports

HANCOCK COUNTY — Pennies, dimes, quarters and dollars came rolling into the Hancock County Community Foundation following the fundraising event to benefit an early childhood literacy program called Imagination Library.

Students and educators across Hancock County had fun with fundraising with activities that included Hat Days, Jean Days, and connecting “train cars,” during Imagination Library Week from Sept. 19 to 23. Participating schools were surprised to learn that their efforts were awarded by a matching gift from the W. Dale and Eva C. Miller Family Fund, a donor-advised fund created by Jim Miller, Marla Miller Butcher, and the late Karen Miller Adrian to honor their parents.

In 2015, 40 percent of Hancock County children scored below or well below kindergarten readiness literacy standards.

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“It’s simply unacceptable that preschool children arrive at the doors of our schools unprepared for a successful kindergarten experience,” said Mary Gibble, community foundation president. “Imagination Library is the program our community has adopted to address this issue and give both students and educators the tools they need to provide early educational success.”

For children born on or after Jan. 1, a library of 60 books will literally be delivered to the home of every enrolled child, every single month, from birth until their fifth birthday, Gibble said.

The $9,204 raised during Imagination Library week goes toward the Imagination Library Endowment Fund, established by the foundation’s board of directors to make sure there will be enough money to fund the program each year going forward. Until the endowment is fully funded, the foundation plans to grant the dollars needed to ensure every eligible child has access to Imagination Library books free of charge.

Each school corporation in the county participated and received a match from the W. Dale and Eva C. Miller Family Fund according to the amount raised.

Greenfield-Central Community School Corp. — $2,213.09 plus $1,000 match

Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. — $1,073.85 plus $800 match

Eastern Hancock County School Corp. — $1,015.75 plus $600 match

St. Michael’s Catholic School — $789.74 plus $400 match

Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock County — $622.05 plus $200 match

“The students, faculty and staff at each school displayed community pride and a charitable spirit through their deep generosity,” said Candy Short, Imagination Library steering committee chair. “It is especially inspiring to see youth giving to benefit the future youth of their community. Every dollar helps us ensure this important program will be available in Hancock County for all time.”

To date, more than 211 babies have been enrolled in the Imagination Library Program. Enrollment information can be found at givehcgrowhc.org or Hancock County Public Library. Personal contributions can be made on the website or at the Hancock County Community Foundation office.