TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sun, April 05

Blazin’ for Books fundraiser at Blazin’ M Ranch
Feb. 23 Imagination Library event to help more children become readers for life

Jean Barton, director of the Verde Valley Imagination Library, says that the program “would not have almost 2,000 children participating without a unified effort.” VVN/Bill Helm

Jean Barton, director of the Verde Valley Imagination Library, says that the program “would not have almost 2,000 children participating without a unified effort.” VVN/Bill Helm

VERDE VALLEY — Close to 2,000 children ages 0-5 receive a free age-appropriate book each month thanks to the Verde Valley’s Imagination Library program.

But participating families don’t pay a cent.

From 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, the program’s Verde chapter will hold a celebration and fundraiser to help even more young children become readers for life.

Dubbed Blazin’ for Books, the event will be held at the Blazin’ M Ranch, 1875 Mabery Ranch Road in Cottonwood. At $50 a head, plus opportunities to participate in a silent auction and various raffles, Event Co-Organizer Jennette Bill “believe(s) that this event will become a yearly signature celebration and fundraiser.”

“We see this event as the opportunity for everyone to participate,” she said. “With a budget of $60,000, we saw this as a way to make our program sustainable over time, the only way to make a difference in the literacy rate of our kids across the Verde Valley.”

In addition to a chuckwagon dinner and various ways to help support the local Imagination Library – VVIL – Tom and Shondra Jepperson will perform music by Dolly Parton, as well as other country western songs.

Jean Barton, director of Verde Valley’s Imagination Library, said the VVIL board decided last summer to hold this event.

“The Blazin’ M features family entertainment, owned by the Mabery family known to support children’s causes. It's a great place to celebrate a reading program designed to bond parents, babies and books,” Barton said. It’s a “fun, joyful celebration – not just a fundraiser.”

What would make Blazin’ for Books a successful event? Barton said she wants “as many of our community partners to come together to help celebrate.”

“It has been a joint effort,” Barton said. “VVMC nurses, Head Start directors and community library staff, funders.”

But the key to the program, she said, is the parents and grandparents of the young readers.

“We would not have almost 2,000 children participating without a unified effort,” Barton said.

Parents can enroll their children in the Verde Valley Imagination Library program at any community library, or online at vvilbooks.com.

Each month, participating children receive a book in the mail. Verde Valley Imagination Library pays for the books and mails them. Each book is personalized with the child’s name and mailed directly to the child’s home by the distributor.

Donations are also accepted at VVILbooks.com. Or email VVILBooks@gmail.com or il@sedonarotary.org for more information.

A brainchild of Dolly Parton, the Imagination Library began in Sevier County, Tennessee to inspire a love of reading in children.

In 2012, the Rotary Club of Sedona brought the Imagination Library concept to Sedona. The Imagination Library expanded from Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek to Rimrock in 2015, thanks to the Beaver Creek community raising funds for their own community, Barton explained.

In 2016, all Rotary Club donations were matched by Rotary District grant funds, and a challenge grant from the Arizona Community Foundation Sedona afforded VVIL the opportunity to expand throughout the Verde Valley.

“Since then, we have received a variety of grants including Arizona Community Foundation-Yavapai, Del E. Webb Foundation, Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation and Yavapai Title Agency’s employee giving program,” Barton said.

According to Barton, a $10 donation each month funds four children for a year, $30 each month funds 12 children for a year, $50 each month funds 20 children for a year.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @AZShutterbug42

If You Go ...

• What: Blazin' for Books fundraiser

• When: 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23

• Where: Blazin' M Ranch, 1875 Mabery Ranch Road, Cottonwood

• How Much: $50

• More Info: 928-301-1363 or jlbill@outlook.com

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