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Dolly Parton performs, charms crowd at Imagination Library luncheon

| August 10, 2022
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine shared the stage with country music superstar Dolly Parton at a luncheon celebrating the success of the statewide extension of her Imagination Library Program. (WJER Radio)

COLUMBUS (WJER) (Aug. 10, 2022) – Tuscarawas County United Way officials got to spend time with a living legend at a luncheon celebrating the success of Ohio’s Imagination Library. 

President Robin Waltz and Community Relations Director Susan Reidenbach traveled to Columbus Tuesday for the private gathering hosted by Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine, who was joined on stage by country music superstar and Imagination Library founder Dolly Parton.

“The DeWines… I love that name, don’t you? Please pass ‘DeWine,’ ok? Did you get ‘DeWine today for lunch?” Parton joked. 

Established in 2019 through DeWine’s charitable foundation, the Ohio Imagination Library is now available statewide and serves more than 345,000 children, who receive a free book in the mail each month until their fifth birthday. DeWine presented Parton with a quilt featuring a patch for each of Ohio’s 88 counties created by a child enrolled in the program.

“Wow! That’s good! I love those quilts,” Parton exclaimed. “My momma used to make all the quilts for our bed, and I don’t imagine you took as long as Momma did to make a quilt for our bed with all those kids, but we’re very honored and proud.”   

Waltz says a student at the Tuscarawas Center for the Arts designed the one for Tuscarawas County, which features a carousel horse.

“His name is Cylus. He did a wonderful job and we were just so happy that we could have a youngster in Tuscarawas County participate in this quilt that’s going to go home with Dolly Parton!”

Parton returned the favor, giving DeWine a larger-than-life copy of her children’s book “Coat of Many Colors” and performing the hit song it’s based on.

About 49 percent of Ohio’s age-eligible children are signed up for Imagination Library book deliveries, although DeWine is hoping to get to 50 by Christmas. Tuscarawas County has already surpassed that mark with a 52-percent enrollment rate, so Waltz says they’re aiming for 60. To register a child or donate to the cause, visit tuscunitedway.org.

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