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Nissan and Dolly Parton a perfect match in Mississippi

Dolly Parton likes teaching kids to read. Nissan likes helping the communities around them. The United Way enjoys matchmaking. So when Dolly needed a sponsor for her preschool reading program in Mississippi, the UW found her the perfect mate in Nissan.

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One of Nissan's major seats of operation is in Canton, Mississippi where the automaker has award-winning facilities and is one of the largest employers in the region. Dolly Parton has a literacy program for preschoolers called the Imagination Library program, which is part of her overall foundation aimed at children of all ages. To kickstart Dolly's program in Mississippi, Nissan is helping to celebrate ten years of growth for the company by giving Dolly's foundation a grant for $400,000 to make the preschool literacy library program a success.

The program, which Parton's foundation created and oversees, will be carried out by the United Way of the Capital Area, expanding the Imagination Library to 35,000 eligible Mississippi kids over the next five years, including children in the Hinds, Madison and Rankin County areas.

"I am thrilled and thankful that United Way and Nissan are joining hands to bring Imagination Library to the kids of the Capital area. It takes special people to do special things and I know we are doing something special in Mississippi," said Dolly Parton.

"Nissan is committed to improving education programs and opportunities in Mississippi," said Nissan Director of Human Resources Jeffrey Webster. "As we celebrate our first 10 years of successful operations in Mississippi, we are pleased to stand with United Way and so many others who are committed to helping children prepare to succeed in school and in life."

The program offers free books, sending an age-appropriate title to each child eligible every month to help build a library of reading for the little ones. Programs at preschools, day care centers, libraries and other locations encourage parents to read to their children, offer signup forms for the books, and give guidance for parents who need help teaching their children.

Country music legend and child advocate Dolly Parton began the Imagination Library program in 1996 in Tennessee and since then, it has expanded to reach more than 700,000 children in 1,600 communities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Nissan has been building vehicles in Canton, Mississippi since 2003 and employs more than 5,000 people there. The company and its employees have awarded more than $8 million in grants and scholarships during that time and Nissan employees have volunteered thousands of hours to community service in the area as well.

Clearly, Dolly and Nissan are a perfect match in Mississippi.

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