Gun Lake Casino Presents $100,000 to United Way for Young Readers

The Gun Lake Casino presented United Way with a $100,000 check to help fund Dolly Parton's Imagination Library for children age 0-5 in Allegan County.

The Imagination Library has been in Allegan County for 13 years. The national program provides age-appropriate books through the mail once a month to kids.

United Way has funded the young readers book program, and the Allegan Area Education Service Agency has provided staff to handle the registration forms and manage the program's database during that time.

Rebecca Lamper, chair of the local United Way, said since the program has grown, funding has been difficult. "We are grateful to the casino for their support," Lamper said.

Over the years, about 3,000 children from Allegan County have participated in the program, according to Hillary Hovinga, director of marketing and communications for Allegan County United Way. "Without support for this program we would not have been able to continue funding the program at the current level," Hovinga said. "The donation from the casino allowed it to continue."

Teresa Fulk, director of instruction at Wayland Union Schools, said reading to kids right after they are born gives them an early start in building reading skills, because they begin to hear language. "Programs like the Imagination Library get books in the hands of kids at an early age, and help them to establish a firm foundation for literacy skills."

Jeff Martin, Tribal Council secretary for the Gun Lake Tribe, said "If we have a chance to help kids, we should set them up for the rest of their lives. Not just our own, but those in the community. On behalf of the Gun Lake Tribe, we're glad to help."

Those interested signing their children up for the Allegan County Imagination Library can find forms at

To see the original story, please click here