Library collects donations for Harvest House

Dusty Ricketts
Megan Fontaine, administrative assistant at the library, delivers donated food and personal hygiene items the library collected through its Food for a Fine program to Harvest House. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

Several local families had extra food this holiday season and some Destin Library patrons had their overdue fines erased at the same time, thanks to the library's annual Food for a Fine program.

During December, the library credited residents' overdue accounts $1 for every non-perishable food or personal hygiene item brought in. The library delivered several boxes of food and other items to Harvest House of Destin.

"It went really well," said Megan Fontaine, administrative assistant at the library. "We took probably seven big boxes full of food over to Harvest House.

"We love that we have a locally-run food back right around the corner from our building," she added. "We know the people who operate it and we know that everything that we give to them is going back to the people who are here in our community. It feels good to know that we are contributing to that."

In total, the library waved $380 of overdue fines, but the total dollar value of the food items donated was a lot higher than that, Fontaine said.

The library collects overdue fees on every late checked out item, whether it's a book, audio book, movie or video game. The amount of the fee varies depending on the type of item.

Fontaine said the library collects about $10 to $15 a day, on average, in overdue fees.

Although the library has had the Food for a Fine program for more than a decade, this was the first year for new library director Wen Livingston, who joined the library's staff in August.

Livingston decided to streamline the program slightly. In past years, the library has tried to estimate the value of items being donated. Livingston instead decided to give a $1 credit for each item donated.

"It's good for the staff and it's good for the community to find a way to give back," Livingston said. "It's a good program all around. I'm glad to see they do it.

"There were some people who didn't have fines who donated anyway and we could put those toward somebody who maybe need some help with their fines," she added.

Livingston said the Food for a Fine program would return in December of this year.