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Library food drive is fine in Saugus

Photo By PAULA MULLER

Julianna Posada watches her son Lucas Posada, 2, put a can of beans into the bin for the Food for Fines Program at the Saugus Library. 

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Call it an example of continuing holiday good cheer. The Saugus Public Library is wrapping up its annual Food for Fines campaign, which allows residents to pay off their library fees while also supporting the local community.

From now until New Year’s Eve, residents can pay off their library fees by bringing in non-perishable, non-expired food items for donation.

“Just for the holidays, you can support a local food pantry and take care of your fines at the same time,” said library director Mary O’Connell.

Donations, which can be made in place of fines, can include items such as canned soup, canned tuna or chicken, pasta, rice, cereals, or peanut butter.

O’Connell asks that those who wish to participate first check the date of expiration on the food they are using as their donation.

A station with blue donation boxes and information about the program is set up near the entrance of the library, to the right of the Children’s Librarian’s desk.

“Generally speaking, people donate one item to forgive $1 in fines, but any donation is welcome.

We have been doing (a Food for Fines campaign) for about 10 years,” said O’Connell. “The idea is not unique to the Saugus Public Library. Many libraries participate in Food For Fines programs.”

This year, any food collected will be donated to the Saugus United Parish Food Pantry, located at the Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St.

The pantry, which provides food assistance for residents in need, has been sponsored by the churches of Saugus since 1995. It has been a member of the Greater Boston Food Bank since 2005 and is working with it as an emergency food pantry.

Tables are set up at the pantry so clients have the opportunity to choose their own food.

“The pantry has already picked up three or four times since the program started,” said O’Connell. And the library has collected close to 500 items for donation.

“It’s an opportunity to pay off your fines ,but also to help somebody who might need a little extra help this season,” O’Connell said.

Though the library accepts donations in place of fines, O’Connell says those not connected to library fines should be brought directly to the pantry.

The United Parish Food Pantry is open Fridays between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. for clients to pick up food.

Those who wish to register with the pantry should bring a photo ID, utility bill dated within the past month with their name and address listed on it, documents showing the State or Federal assistance they are receiving, and a current pay stub ,if employed. If clients are accepting for children under the age of 18, they should also bring in a copy of the child’s birth certificate or passport and proof of legal residence.

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