Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food donations cancel out library fines in May

May 19, 2011

During the month of May, Bonner Springs City Library patrons with hefty late fees will have a way to pay those fees that doesn’t involve their wallets.

Through the library’s Food for Fines program, patrons can bring in one nonperishable food item per dollar owed and have those fines forgiven. So if the patron has a $5 fine, they can bring in five cans or other nonperishable items and the fine will be cleared. If the patron has a $20 fine, they can bring in 20 nonperishable items, and so on.

Librarian and Food for Fines organizer Kathleen Schram said the library hasn’t offered the program since it moved into its new building in 2009, but she thought it had been done a couple of times before at the old location.

“And it was just a way for us to give back to the community and get people back into the library who haven’t been able to use the library because of their late fees,” Schram said.

Any canned items will make a temporary stop as weights to hold down the luminary bags during the Kaw Valley Relay for Life in June, Schram said — she is a friend of one of the relay organizers and wanted to help. Then all of the nonperishables will be donated to Vaughn-Trent Community Services.

“It’s always been a wonderful addition,” said Carol Geary, Vaughn-Trent director, of the program. “Because we always have such a need for food pantry items. Since the economy tanked, we’ve just had so many more calls.”

While helping the community as a whole, Kim Beets, library director, said this also will be a good way to especially help those people with fines greater than $10. Once fines go over the $10 mark, Beets said, library patrons are no longer allowed to check anything out until the fine is paid.

“So this is a good way to get people to clear out their accounts who might not be able to pay that, because that is an issue for (patrons), especially in this economy,” Beets said.

There are some requirements, of course. Schram said all donated items must not be out-of-date and cans can’t have any dents in them. But, thus far, she said, the event has been successful, garnering 240 nonperishable items as of Monday.

Though any nonperishable that meets the library’s requirements will be accepted, Geary said there are some items Vaughn-Trent needs more than others. She says the organization is up to its ears in canned corn and canned green beans — two of the most popular donated items — but could use peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti and any kind of spaghetti sauce, canned fruit and canned meats like tuna, chicken or Spam.

The event will run through May 31, and Beets said the library would offer it again down the line. But don’t expect it to be offered every year.

“We’ll never make it an annual thing because we don’t want people to count on it every year and wait to pay off those fines,” she said.

To participate in the Food for Fines program, simply bring your items to the front desk and a librarian will assist you. Beets said the library also is happy to serve as a donation drop-off point even for those patrons without late fees.

“If someone wants to donate food to Vaughn-Trent or to help support Relay for Life, they would be welcome to drop it off here,” she said.

For more information, call the library at (913) 441-2665. The library is at 201 N. Nettleton.

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