After Kyle DeGood, 20, finished reading to his twin sisters, he got in his car and heard a Dolly Parton song for the Imagination Library, “I Believe in You.”
He spent the remainder of the night looking up ways to help other children in the area get access to free books.
So he decided to start a nonprofit.
“I’m a big fan of Dolly Parton,” he said. “Since I was 10 years old I’ve always loved the Imagination Library.”
In addition to running a nonprofit full-time, DeGood also studies business administration at Christopher Newport University, works at CarMax, is in the Army Reserves, and runs a phone case making venture.
The foundation’s board of directors include DeGood’s co-workers from CarMax, and he has students from CNU who volunteer as well.
“It honestly just kind of happened randomly,” DeGood said.
The nonprofit’s purpose is to provide positive learning experiences to children and operates primarily out of Yorktown. The DeGood Foundation recently partnered with the literacy program which gives free books to children 5 years old and younger.
Since the program started on March 9, more than 175 children in Newport News and Yorktown received free books — in zip codes 23606 and 23692.
When asked why not give the children technology reading devices such as Kindles and iPads, DeGood said is you don’t get the same experience as you would with a book.
“It’s something tangible for the child to hold,” he said, adding each free book is inscribed with the child’s name.
Parents, grandparents and guardians can sign up online or send a form to the foundation.
In the future, DeGood plans to attend festivals, visit preschools and have book readings at local libraries. But for now, he is waiting on several grant applications and is reaching out to corporate sponsors. He also hopes to expand the Imagination Library program to other zip codes and localities once the nonprofit gets more sponsors and more funding.
Even though the Imagination Library is the DeGood Foundation’s latest venture, it isn’t the last.
The nonprofit will be working with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk on Wednesday to create ‘Bags of Hope” for children in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Each drawstring bag will include reading material, toys and something soft and cuddly like a teddy bear.
DeGood said CKHD is near and dear to his heart since as a newborn he had complications with his head, lungs, heart and other issues.
“I wouldn’t be here today without them,” DeGood said.