Dolly Parton tribute concert to raise funds to send free books to kids

photo by: Backstory Photography

Deja Brooks emcees the Imagination Library of Douglas County's 2022 fundraising concert. Brooks will once again emcee the event on June 22.

A local nonprofit dedicated to providing free books to kids through age 5 is gearing up for a fundraising concert.

On Saturday, June 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Maceli’s Catering and Banquet Hall, 1031 New Hampshire St., Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Douglas County will host “Dolly and Desserts,” a fundraising concert featuring local musicians and emceed by popular drag performer Deja Brooks. Artists including Heidi Gluck, Sally and the Hurts, Suzannah Johannes, Jenna & Martin and Luxem Sauder Dixey will play covers of beloved Parton songs in an effort to raise money to send free books to children in Douglas County.

Last year, Parton’s Imagination Library became a statewide program in Kansas. Local affiliates like Douglas County’s manage the program and pay half of the book and mailing costs, while the Kansas Children’s Cabinet underwrites 50% of local affiliate costs.

The Douglas County group began mailing books in 2020. It currently serves more than 2,700 kids and has mailed more than 70,000 books since its launch, according to a press release about the fundraiser.

“The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics,” the release reads. “In a survey of participating Douglas County caregivers, 97% reported that the Imagination Library program has had a positive impact on their family, and 72% said the time they spend reading with their child has increased since receiving the books.”

The Douglas County affiliate must raise $1.10 per child per month — about $13.20 per year — for every child enrolled. According to the release, at its current growth rate, the affiliate estimates it will need $42,000 to pay for books in 2024.

Additionally, the release notes that the Douglas County group has set a goal to raise enough money for a one-year reserve fund, ensuring it never needs to suspend enrollments due to a lack of funds. That’s a challenge the group faced in 2022 due to rapid enrollment growth from local families.

The last fundraising concert hosted in 2022 sold out, so the group encourages those interested in attending to buy tickets early. Businesses and individuals can also make a direct donation to the Imagination Library of Douglas County through the ticket site or at the Douglas County Success By 6 website.


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