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Library waiving overdue fines in exchange for food

October 13, 2018

HARLINGEN — Have an outstanding library fine? Cut your penalty by up to $10 when you bring in food donations.

Library patrons will be able to help the city’s homeless shelter stock its pantry.

For three years, the Harlingen Public Library’s Food for Fines program has cut $1 off patrons’ overdue book fines in exchange for food donations going to Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.

Since 2015, patrons have donated hundreds of cans and packages of food to help the shelter feed the poor during the holidays.

“It’s just a good way to give back to the community,” library Director Duana Campbell said Wednesday.

This year, the program runs from Nov. 1 to 18.

“It’s right before the holiday season, so people feel grateful and they want to help those who are a little less fortunate and going through hard times,” Campbell said.

As part of Food for Fines, the library waives as much as $10 in fines to patrons who donate 10 or more food items, Campbell said.

Since the program started, every year the library has waived about $80 in fines.

Last year, the program donated several hundred cans and packages of food to Loaves and Fishes, Campbell said.

Many residents donate food even though they do not owe fines.

“We have a good response from our community,” she said.

At Loaves and Fishes, Executive Director Bill Reagan counts on the program to stock up the shelter’s pantry.

“We need the help,” Reagan said. “They’ve always brought over a considerable amount.”

Now, the shelter is preparing to host its annual Thanksgiving feast.

“This is the right time of year,” Reagan said.

The program helps out during one of the shelter’s busiest times of the year.

“It’s got to be nonperishable stuff,” Reagan said. “It’s all the staples — canned goods, rice, pasta, cereal.”

The shelter is even handing out nutrition bars to the homeless, he said.

Reagan said the program also helps the pantry prepare for next year’s meals.

“It gets us set up for the New Year,” he said.

For more information, call the library at 956216-5800.

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