Libraries may be struggling with cuts in hours, staff, and budgets but that doesn't mean those institutions have forgotten that some folks are worse off than they are. Below is a very short, and NOT at all inclusive list of libraries that are sponsoring charitable efforts to make the holidays happier for everyone:
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas is asking quilters to make wounded soldiers more comfortable. The “Quilts of Valor” challenge seeks display worthy quilts for an exhibit on Veteran's Day in 2010. After the exhibition, the quilts will be donated to wounded troops.
The Red Hook Public Library in New York has raised cash and food for the local St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank by allowing customers to have their library fines forgiven in exchange for charitable donations.
The Morris County Library in Whippany, New Jersey is collecting gently used, winter coats for men, women, children, and infants. The Jersey Cares Foundation will distribute the donated clothing to needy families around the state.
The Marion County Library in South Carolina will take $1.00 off of library fines for every can of food that is donated. The food will support Manna House in Mullins and the Marion Church of God Food Bank.
The Truro Library in Massachusetts will sponsor an "Angel Tree." The tree will be decorated with paper angels, with each angel representing a needy child in the area. Patrons can earn their own "angel wings" by purchasing and donating a suggested gift for their "adopted" child. Gifts will be distributed by the Homeless Prevention Council.
The Conneaut Public Library in Ohio will allow patrons who owe the library overdue fines to expunge their records with donations to the Conneaut Food Pantry. The program works like this: Whatever the fine, the amount will be sliced in half if the patron provides a like number of food items for the Pantry. For example, someone who owes $50 will be off the hook by providing 25 items.
The Stillwater, Minnesota Public Library is doing what comes naturally. This year, as in the past, they are collecting new children's books for distribution through Head Start and the Holiday Bureau. The public is invited to bring new, unwrapped hardcover or paperback children's books to the library for distribution to needy families in the area.
Finally, a bit further afield for Book Patrol, Manurewa Branch Public Library in Manukau, New Zealand is conducting its annual toy drive. Toys are collected at the Library and donated to the local Salvation Army for distribution to families the charity has worked with throughout the year.
Check with your local library to find out if they are teaming up with a worthy charity this holiday season. If not, consider donating to The Friends of The Library organization in your area. If these libraries and others like them don't survive the economic downturn, all of these programs could find themselves joining the ranks of the homeless.