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How Loudoun libraries waived over $15K in overdue fees for food

Loudoun Hunger Relief employees packed full two trucks with donations on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Courtesy Loudoun County Public Library)

Loudoun County Public Library let cardholders with outstanding fines at its nine libraries pay them off with food instead, and in one week, it collected 15,500 pounds of food.

That is nearly double what the same “Food for Fines” amnesty program brought in last year, and it led to waiving $15,100 in overdue fees.

From April 8 to April 14, cardholders could pay off $1 in fines for every unopened, nonperishable food item donated.

All donations, 499 boxes of it, went to Loudoun Hunger Relief, the county’s largest food pantry.

Loudoun County Public Library employees Karen Warner, left, and Christyna Hunter organized the third annual Food for Fines drive. (Courtesy Loudoun County Public Library)

“This is now our second-largest food drive of the year,” said Erika Huddleston, associate director of Loudoun Hunger Relief. “Having a drive this time of year is really beneficial, because it gives us the chance to stock up before summer.”

This year’s drive was organized by Christyna Hunter, a Lovettsville Library staff member, and Karen Warner, from Purcellville Library’s circulation department.

“Our goal is to encourage people to use the library again. Often times, when you have fines, you don’t want to come back to the library,” Hunter said. “It’s important for people to know that no matter what, we want them in the library.”

All nine of the Loudoun County library’s branches participated in Food for Fines. Cascades Library and Ashburn Library waived the most fines in exchange for food, at $2,853 and $2,783, respectively.

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