By Juli Metzger—
Muncie, IN—When Debbie Edwards Thompson makes her rounds as a letter carrier, she often brings much more than the mail to children on her route.
She delivers smiles.
She delivers excitement.
And, most importantly, she delivers opportunity.
Because inside those packages are books that are part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which provides one book each month for children, from birth to age 5, enrolled in the program in Delaware, Henry and Randolph counties.
Thompson, who has been a letter carrier in Muncie for 26 years, was serving on United Way’s Board of Directors when the organization became the local coordinator of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2015. She knew she could assist the organization in helping to navigate the postal system and continues to do so after serving for four years on the board.
Thompson said when she delivers books it’s not only a good day for the children, but for her as well.
“You get to know the kids by being their mail lady,” she said. “And when you have a book that you are delivering that day, it’s exciting to see their faces as they come out to get the mail.”
Getting a new book each month helps children learn to love books and get an early start to reading, Thompson said.
“It helps them to be more ready for school,” she said. “It’s just great to be part of something so wonderful that helps children.”
Since 2015, United Way has distributed more than 41,334 books to children within Delaware County through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program recently expanded to serve children in Henry and Randolph counties. Support from donors in each county allows for there to be no cost to the families enrolled in this program. A gift of $25 to United Way provides a year’s worth of books to a child.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is just one example of how the United Way serves the community, Thompson said, adding that she felt honored to serve on the board and learn more deeply about the organization’s impact.
“We touch on all aspects of life. We help children. We help the elderly. We help with food. We help with shelter. We help with financial assistance,” she said. “It’s amazing to be part of something like that.”
Thompson’s involvement with the United Way goes back many years. She has been the coordinator for the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive in Delaware County for 25 years. United Way annually supports sponsors the food drive. Additional volunteer work includes helping, through the Letter Carriers Association, to create stocking stuffers for nursing homes and gift baskets for families during the holidays.
“I just really love volunteering and helping,” Thompson said.
About United Way of Delaware, Henry & Randolph Counties
United Way of Delaware, Henry & Randolph Counties fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. Using community input, the nonprofit crafts local impact plans that work to end generational poverty. Learn more at InvitedToLiveUnited.org.