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Imagination Library Reading Nook and 100,000th Book Celebration

United Way Partners with Junior League of Erie and The John F. Kennedy Center to Unveil Reading Nook and Honor 100,000th Book Recipient
Erie, PA – Two-year-old Ja’Vari Guelledge will receive the honorary 100,000th Imagination Library book in Erie County on November 6 at 10:30am at the John F. Kennedy Center. Since United Way launched the Imagination Library in May 2013, more than 9,800 other local children like Ja’Vari have signed up to receive free, age-appropriate books delivered to their homes each month from birth to age five.
The Imagination Library in Erie County has become one of the most successful in the nation. “The support and adoption of this program in our community has been incredible,” said Jim E. Martin, United Way’s Board Chairman. “Today, almost half of all children under five in Erie County have signed up.”
Ja’Vari was selected as the honorary recipient of the 100,000th book after being chosen by United Way as the winner of a photo contest held in October. Ja’Vari’s mother Tania, submitted a photo of herself reading “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney to her son. In addition to receiving the honorary 100,000th Imagination Library book, Ja’Vari will take home a donated prize package which includes a family photo session with R.Frank Photography, four tickets to the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum and four tickets to an Erie Playhouse Youtheatre Performance. 
United Way, in collaboration with Junior League of Erie and the John F. Kennedy Center, will also commemorate another Imagination Library milestone by cutting the ribbon for the first Imagination Library Reading Nook. Located inside the John F. Kennedy Center, 2021 East 20th Street. The Reading Nook is intended as a quiet place for parents and caregivers to read to their children.
Junior League of Erie graciously donated the Nook as a silent auction item for United Way’s Imagination Ball in October 2013. Nan Held, mother of Ivan Held, President of G.P. Putnam’s Sons and a strong Imagination Library advocate won the auction with a high bid of $3,000.
 "Many of us were lucky enough to grow up in homes where reading was always encouraged,” said Nan. “Dolly Parton reminds us that that’s not the case for everyone.  The Imagination Library brings reading to kids who might not otherwise have so many books in their lives."
Junior League of Erie and United Way representatives worked with Nan to select the John F. Kennedy Center as the recipient of the Reading Nook. Local artist Heather Cash was commissioned to paint the scenery in the room. Donations for the Reading Nook room include carpet provided by J's Flooring Center and furniture provided by John V. Schultz.
“The Junior League of Erie is a proud partner of United Way and the Imagination Library,” Junior League of Erie President Catherine Fox commented. “We see this as a vital way to help fight poverty and are thrilled we could bring the reading nook to the JFK Center. It's our hope that children in this neighborhood will develop a love of reading and begin to see all of the wonderful possibilities that await them.”
“We hope to set up additional reading nooks in the community, and are grateful to all the donors who made the JFK nook possible.”
The Imagination Library is a United Way of Erie County initiative in collaboration with The Erie Community Foundation and other funding and community partners. For more information about the Imagination Library please visit