Girlfriend Gala will give books to children in Etowah County


By Laura Ann Tipps/Staff Writer

The United Way of Etowah County will host its fourth annual Girlfriend Gala and Preview Day, benefitting Success By 6’s partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, on March 20 at Convention Hall in Gadsden.

Preview Day is from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Advance tickets are $8 each and include a boxed lunch. Tickets will be available at the door for $10, with no lunch included.

Executive Director of the United Way of Etowah County, Joanne Hightower, said that a limited number of tickets are available for the Girlfriend Gala, which begins at 6 p.m. the same night.

Tickets for the Gala are $75 each, include dinner, and also grant admission to the preview earlier in the day.

Success By 6 is a United Way initiative designed to encourage school readiness. Many United Way locations across the country partner with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide books to children from birth to age five. 

The proceeds from the annual Girlfriend Gala and Preview Day enable the United Way to participate in the Imagination Library and have books sent directly to the homes of over 1,400 Etowah County children.

“We take sign-ups all over the community, to preschools and daycares, everywhere that there are children,” said Hightower. 

Enrollment in the program is year-round, and a child will typically receive his or her first book within six weeks of signing up for the Success By 6 program. 

“The first book you get, no matter your age, is The Little Engine that Could, because it’s Dolly Parton’s favorite book after the Bible, and it includes a note from her,” said Hightower. 

At the Gala and Preview Day, guests will enjoy 70 tables decorated by community volunteers. This year’s theme is “Fairy Tales, Dreams, and Magical Things,” and many of the tables will be decorated accordingly. 

“The decorators are the highlights of the show, because they have singlehandedly grown the reach of this event from a few hundred kids to over 1,400,” said Hightower. 

Many local businesses, organizations, and individuals also sponsor the Girlfriend Gala.  For detailed sponsor information, search “United Way’s Success By 6/Girlfriend Gala” on Facebook.

Tickets for Preview Day or the Girlfriend Gala can be purchased at the United Way office Preview Day tickets can also be purchased at Convention Hall the day of the event. The office can be reached at (256) 547-2581. 

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