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Food donations replace fines

If you have ever missed out on returning that library loan, then you know all too well that fines are imposed. With some items the fines can add up quickly, making it difficult to get back into the swing of borrowing once that is on your record. Luckily, once a year the Region of Waterloo Library gives their members the chance to rid themselves of their fines in exchange for a donation of non-perishable food items.

Sheryl Tilley, manager of library services, says running the program in October made complete sense in order to help local charities at the time of greatest need.

“We live in a wonderful giving community, and people are looking for ways to give back to the community. It just seemed to make sense to run it in October, which is of course Thanksgiving, and a time of giving. October also has Ontario Public Library week, and so we used to run it at same time as Ontario Public Library to raise attention for [the event], and to bring people into the library who might not want to come in in case they owed fines. They might have felt awkward about coming in. But people love to be generous and give, so this brought people into the library: they could contribute to the food bank, and they could write off their fines that way by giving, so it was a win-win situation,” said Tilley.“Now, this year, we did it a little bit differently. It’s not connected to Ontario Public Library week. We wanted to run it earlier in the month, and we ran it for two weeks instead of just one.”

The event ran from October 5 to 17, getting rid of $762.32 worth of fines. Each item of food donated takes off $2 in fines, Tilley says that more often than not, people are extremely generous and give more food than they need to reduce their overall fines.

While she does not know the total number of items collected as not all of the 10 branches have reported in with their numbers, 157 items have been collected at the Elmira branch. That’s 60 more items than last year. She says every year the Elmira and New Hamburg branches are always in competition for collecting the most food.

“It’s a pretty tight horserace between New Hamburg and Elmira. We are the two biggest branches of all the 10 branches. So new Hamburg would be in Wilmot Township,  and Elmira is in Woolwich Township, and whether you’re talking circulation or number of members or food for fines collected, it’s a pretty tight horserace between those two big branches,” she added.

Organizations like Woolwich Community Services, Wilmot Family Resource Centre and Knox United Church all benefit from the generosity of residents in the Region of Waterloo.

Tilley said she is very grateful to all those who come out to donate, noting this is one of the best ways to help the community.

“The library is a part of our rural community and we are a township service, servicing our community. And this is one of the best ways that we can connect and help our patrons help others in the community.”

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