Settle up your library debt by lending a helping hand

Larry Ladd, special projects director with Community Food Connection, poses with Kathy Pagles, director of Blount County Public Library, by a display promoting the Fines for Food campaign.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Larry Ladd, special projects director with Community Food Connection, poses with Kathy Pagles, director of Blount County Public Library, by a display promoting the Fines for Food campaign.

If your fines at the Blount County Public Library are keeping you away -- or keeping those overdue books shoved to the back of your shelf, April is the time to take care of all that.

The Food for Fines initiative is April 10-16 and is a way to help local food pantries while taking care of your library fees. Instituted to coincide with National Library Week, Food for Fines encourages local residents to trade non-perishable items of food to reduced or pay off library fines. The collected food items will be given to the local food pantries participating in the United Way of Blount County food pantry collaboration.

“The Blount County Public Library is trying to do something for the community outside of the normal library programs. I hope this can be a fun thing, a really positive experience,” said library director Kathy Pagles. “Because Blount County food pantries are having such a difficult time right now, Blount County Public Library wants to provide an opportunity for library patrons and staff to help supply food to the food pantries.”

For every item of food donated, patron fines for overdue materials will be reduced by $1.

The Food for Fines program does not apply to lost materials, only fines. Also, the program does not apply to accounts which have been referred for collection.

Pagles said folks without fines also are encouraged to give food or monetary donations. “Any checks can be made out to individual food pantries or to the Blount County Friends of the Library who will pass along the donations to the pantries,” she said.

Donations for the Food for Fines program or any of the food pantries will be collected in the Entry Rotunda of the library during library hours the week of April 10 through 16. Blount County Friends of the Library volunteers will assist with the food collection.

Library hours Monday through Thursday are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday hours are 1 to 5:30 p.m.

Acceptable food items include only full-size canned or boxed foods - no single servings. Items must not be expired and must be free of dirt and bugs.

Some suggested items include canned applesauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables or soup, canned tuna and peanut butter.

No exotic foods or items that need special cooking methods are needed and folks are asked to check expiration dates. Food pantries cannot distribute expired items, and the library cannot give credit for them either. No perishable items will be accepted.

All members of United Way Collaborative will benefit from the collection. These pantries are: Blount County Food Pantry, Chilhowee Baptist Center, Church of the Cove, Community Food Connection, C.R.O.S.S. Ministries, Fairview United Methodist Church, Jehovah Jireh (St. Paul AMEZ Church), Light House Ministries, Louisville Christian Community Center, Manna Outreach Ministries, New Life Ministries and Townsend Church of God.

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