By Bobinec, Greg on December 4, 2019.
A faculty member at Lethbridge College, who took an idea and turned it into a long-running campaign, is launching the 30th run of the initiative to help students forgive their fines.
Cindy Warner, an access services specialist in the Buchanan Library at the college, has launched the Lethbridge College’s 30th Food for Fines Campaign, where food donations to the Lethbridge College Students’ Association (LCSA) Food Bank can be used to potentially forgive overdue charges in the library.
“Libraries are the hub of the community and often build community within communities,” says Warner. “These presenters were talking about small-town libraries in the U.S., and how their towns were really struggling so libraries started accepting food for fines to try to build up their community’s food banks.”
As the person responsible for overdue accounts at the college library, Warner drew on the concept from a conference in 2003 and was attracted to the idea for the way it supported students. With a small library, the college needs resources returned promptly so others can use them. Warner understands how difficult cash fines can be for students and says a donation of food to help other students is a little less painful of a way for them to take care of their overdue fines.
“Without the Food for Fines program, I think we would really struggle to meet the needs of our students here on campus,” says Angela Fretts-Waters, who oversees the LCSA Food Bank. “Cindy is absolutely amazing. Her creativity with each of the campaigns gives me goosebumps. She puts her heart and soul into this program and she cares about the students so much and just wants to see the best for them.”
Students with fines are able to have up to $30 forgiven with a donation, but everyone is welcome to contribute, not just those with overdue fines. Throughout the years, the campaign has received donations from local service clubs, businesses and community members who want to eliminate student hunger. After nearly 22 years working at the college, Warner knows Food for Fines will be a special accomplishment.
“It’s one of the most important things I’ve done because I know that it’s made an impact on students,” says Warner. “It’s really hard for some students to be successful when they’re hungry, so if there’s even a few students that have been able to pass their final exams or get through to the end of the semester with a full tummy, then I will have felt like I’ve done something.”
This fall’s Food for Fines campaign will run until Dec. 18. Donations are accepted at the Buchanan Library, located near Centre Core. Any non-perishable food items will be gratefully accepted, with breakfast items always in need. Once the campaign ends, if people would still like to donate, donations can be made through the LCSA Office in Lethbridge College’s Centre Core.
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