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Cortez library to forgive portion of fines for annual food drive

Food for Fines drive continues through May 26
Cortez Public Library

Cortez Public Library patrons will have a chance to get rid of fines while helping the needy this month during the annual

This is the third year the library has held the drive, which gives patrons $2 of credit toward overdue fines for each item of nonperishable food they bring in during business hours. All the donations will go to the Good Samaritan Center food pantry. The library will collect food for the drive from May 14 to 26.

Library Director Eric Ikenouye said the drive is an idea he carried over from a previous job at a library in Salt Lake City. He couldn’t give exact numbers of people who participated in last year’s event, but he said it has grown since it first started. On Friday, he said some people had already started bringing in canned goods.

Hosting a food drive at the library is a “no-brainer,” he said.

“The advantage of being a library is that everybody knows where we are,” he said. “We’re open a lot of hours during the week, and we’re here for people if they want to drop canned goods off.”

The Good Samaritan Center is temporarily located in Lifeway Baptist Church on 601 N. Dolores Road while its new location on 20 N. Beech St. is under construction. It is only open two hours a day, four days a week, and Ikenouye said the library’s much longer hours makes it more convenient for most would-be donors.

Late fees provide only a small portion of the library’s revenue, Ikenouye said, so giving people credit in exchange for donations doesn’t have a big impact on the budget. But the $2 credit won’t count toward fees for lost or damaged materials.

“We want people to help other people in any way, shape or form, and if they get the added benefit of getting rid of library fines, that’s fine with me,” he said.

He added that people without library fines are also welcome to donate to the drive.

All donated food must be nonperishable, before its expiration date and with a label attached.

The drive is a partnership with United Way of Southwest Colorado, which has acted as the liaison between the library and the Good Samaritan since last year. Montezuma County program coordinator Alex Prime said alleviating food insecurity is one of United Way’s top priorities in the county.

The Good Samaritan is holding one of its biggest food drives of the year on Saturday, called “Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger.” Donors are asked to put nonperishable food into bags next to their mailboxes so USPS can deliver it to the pantry.

According to its Facebook page, the pantry served 7,134 people in 2017.

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