ATHENS, Tenn. — A local gave the gift of literacy to local children. The Morning Pointe of Athens resident — who chose to remain anonymous — made an $8,000 donation to the United Way of McMinn and Meigs Counties.

Funds will be distributed to benefit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Let’s Read 20 initiatives, according to Stephanie Linkous, United Way executive director. The programs partner with community organizations to provide free books to children, encouraging childhood literacy for families with limited resources.

For the past few years, the local United Way has been able to provide two books per child to help kids participate in the summer reading program. But Linkous says this act of generosity will help provide up to five books per child.

The donor told Morning Pointe associates that he simply wants to influence and guide other fortunate people to give back to those in need and to really pay it forward.

“We wouldn’t exist without the generosity of local people who have a passion and want to share their good fortune with those who may be less fortunate,” Linkous says. “Education is one of our main focus areas. and this donation is going to go a long way in helping children locally.”

For more than 20 years, local schools have partnered with Morning Pointe communities, exploring intergenerational programming and its benefits to both the residents and youth. The assisted living community has made a commitment to education throughout the Southeast. From book drives to storytelling sessions, and even a generous donation of books to the McMinn County Jail library, literacy continues to be a top-shelf priority for Morning Pointe seniors and associates.

“Everyone remembers that one favorite book as a kid,” says Shelby Wilson Boles, life enrichment director at Morning Pointe of Athens. “Some of our most cherished childhood memories were made while we explored new worlds from cover to cover. Our residents remember this experience well, and want to make sure the gift of literacy is passed down to future generations.”

These memories ring clear for the anonymous donor, who, during this chapter in his life, turns the pages of his youth and recalls the precious memories made while reading his favorite stories.

“Books have made it possible for me to explore the world from my parents’ living room,” he says. “They sacrificed for me to do so.”