Skip to main content

Power of the Purse helps put books in children’s hands

Lead Summary

Come June 16 the Owatonna Country Club will be packed with women and purses. The second annual Power of the Purse fundraiser raises funds for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. 
The event, which is put on by the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, will feature both a silent and live auction along with appetizers, cocktails, desserts and a wall of wine. 
“It is a very worthy cause, but it is also very fun. We had a great time last year together, and I bet we are going to have a lot of fun this year,” said United Way Director of Strategic Operations Tanya Paley. “It is a special energy that is in the room with that many women who are all there committed to making a difference.” 
Last year the event raised $14,000, $4,000 more than the set goal, and 100 women attended. This year the Women’s Leadership Council hopes to raise $15,000 and have even more women attend the event.
The Imagination Library is designed for children from birth to the age of five. Each month the child is enrolled in the program they get an age-appropriate book mailed to their house at no cost to the family. 
Since the program’s launch the library has gone from a few dozen books to over 60,000,000 books that are mailed out to children in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. . Currently there are over 1,600 communities that provide the Imagination Library to over 750,000 children each month. 
“We as a community are committed to having our children arrive ready to succeed at school and this is a program that has demonstrated throughout the country to have made a difference in terms of kids arriving at kindergarten ready to read,” Paley said. “We know that there are still a lot of factors that contribute to a child’s success, but we know that putting books in the hands of kids and making it easy for their parents to read to them makes a difference.” 
Steele County currently has just over 900 children actively participating in the program. Whereas last year the event was needed to get the program up and running, this year’s proceeds will go toward the program’s upkeep costs, in this case shipping. Paley says currently it costs around $25 to ship 12 books. 
“We recognize how important it is for the success of young people to be able to read. There have been a lot of studies looking at what serves children best as far as being able to grow and develop their reading skills so they can be successful,” said Women’s Leadership Council member Karen Duncan. “We are confident that this program is the best way that we can really make an impact at their success in school.” 
As of June 5, there were around 60 purses to be auctioned off during the silent auction, although both Paley and Duncan estimate that number will go up as the event gets closer. 
The silent auction will feature purses of all kind including high-end designer purses and some purses will be stuffed with donations from local merchants. 
The live auction will feature items such as an airplane ride, a weekend at a condo up north, a gourmet dinner for six, a week at Camp Pillsbury, Twins and Timberwolves tickets, and a pool membership for the Owatonna Country Club. 
At the event there will also be a wall of wine in which people can purchase a cork with a number on it. Along with receiving that bottle of wine they will be eligible to win other bottles of wine. 
“It is a terrifically fun time to get together just to catch up with people you don’t see and see the wild purses in the silent auction,” Duncan said. “It is a wonderfully creative event. It is always fun to go out into the community and see what kind of energy and passion there is for different programs that help people be successful in our community.” 
The event will be held Tuesday, June 16 at the Owatonna Country Club from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are strongly encouraged to be purchased in advance from the United Way Office, Kottke Jewelers and Kristi’s Boutique in Owatonna. Tickets cost $50 and include admission, appetizers, dessert and a cocktail. 

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates