CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Saint Francis University is encouraging people to help give the gift of reading to kids in Cambria County ahead of Christmas.

For a donation of $26, residents can provide one book per month to a child for a year, the university said. A $127 donation will cover that same child for five years. These donations go toward the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five.

The university partnered with State Representative Frank Burns and the Dollywood Foundation to make the Imagination Library program available to children in Cambria County as of September.

To donate, the university said you can:

  1. Send your gift by mail to: Saint Francis University – Office of Advancement P.O. Box 600, Loretto, PA 15940
  2. Make your gift online by going to
  3. Call the University’s Office of Advancement at 814-472-3021 and make your gift over the telephone by credit card

Since the program came to Cambria County, over 1,300 local children have enrolled in the program. However, there are more than 6,000 eligible children, so the university is looking at the community for support. Every dollar raised places a book in a child’s hands since they do not take administrative fees for managing the program.

Exposure to reading during the early years is crucial to a child’s brain development and is proven to improve their literacy skills, the university mentioned.

“Research has shown that students who had participated in Imagination Library demonstrated stronger reading skills and performed better on kindergarten readiness measures as opposed to those who had not,” Melissa Peppetti, director of the University’s Graduate Education program, said. “Having a solid foundation in early literacy skills is critical to children’s future reading performance.”

More information on the Imagination Library can be found online.

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