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Overdue Destin library books help feed the hungry

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
The Destin Log

Whoever thought having an overdue book at the library could actually help feed someone?

For the past 19 years, those with overdue books at the Destin Library have had the option during the month of December to give back to the community and at the same time have those late fees erased by bringing in a non-perishable can good or donation.

And this year, the library’s annual Food for Fines program generated $312.15 worth of food and monetary donations that were recently presented to the Harvest House in Destin.

“We are so grateful for the strong relationship with our Destin Library and all of the mission minded individuals who love and support our community,” said Lori Joyner, executive director of Harvest House Thrift Store and Food Pantry. “This donation came at a perfect time of year for us as the pantry is pretty depleted and food donations are a minimal for us and the need we have these first few months of the year. We were able to go shopping and fill in many empty shelves with food that we so desperately needed.”

The Food for Fines program is something the Destin Library does every year in December,

“And it doesn’t matter how old the book is, you can get your account cleared up by making a donation,” said Megan Fontaine, tech programming specialist at the library.

Fontaine said they get everything from a can of green beans to a toothbrush.

“We get mostly can goods and dry box goods,” she said.

And for every donation, $1 is taken off the library patron’s balance.

“We’ve had a comparable amount for the past five years,” Fontaine said, noting it’s been consistently in the $300 range for total donations.

How much is a late fine on a library book or DVD? The cost is 15 cents a day for books and $1 per day for late fees on DVD rentals.

But the dollars and cents add up. For example, if a person checked out 10 books at a time and they were all late by one day, that would be $1.50. If they were late for a week, the fine would be $9 and $36 for four weeks.

Fontaine said books can be checked out for two weeks at a time and can be renewed two times, unless someone is waiting for that particular book.

However, not all the donations were made because of a late book.

“People see that we’re collecting and they want to donate, but most is erasing over due fines,” Fontaine said.

Fontaine said some people might be embarrassed to come in with overdue books, but this gives them a way to give back.

“It’s something you can feel good about ... you can take care of it in a way that gives back,” she said.