By Brandon Martin

The Blue Ridge Regional Library is holding a Food for Fines canned food drive at all branches scheduled through Dec. 7.

Participants that donate canned goods may have up to $5 of any outstanding library fines erased. People who do not have fines also are welcome to participate.

“We are a library about community,” said Leandio Gravely, program coordinator at the library. “This event serves a dual purpose. We wanted to find a way for patrons to get their card unlocked and also help out the less fortunate.”

Those in the community who are looking to pay off library fines, or just looking to donate, may do so at branches either in Martinsville, Bassett, Collinsville, Patrick County and Ridgeway.

This program is done in partnership with the Salvation Army, which offers meals three times a week to help fight hunger.

“We try to partner with local organizations to be effective in the entire community,” said Gravely. “Working with the Salvation Army is great! It’s even more moving because I’ve been there and seen how the contributions helped the people in this community that really need it.”

Gravely said he was moved by the contributions of the citizens in the city and surrounding counties.

“It’s a phenomenal thing,” he said. “It’s awesome to see the unity and community. That’s the point of programs like this and this drive is our way of doing our part to lengthen the reach of some of these charitable programs already in place. It’s all about helping each other and when you see all the donations, it really warms the heart.”

Certain items will not be accepted for donation. For example, expired and damaged items won’t be accepted. In addition, glass, plastic or cardboard containers are prohibited. Open packages and non-nutritious items, such as chips and candy, also are not accepted.

Gravely said this is the third time the library has put on the event and he hopes to eclipse donation numbers from past years.

“We donated over one thousand items for the drive last year,” Gravely said. “We need more people to donate still. We want to see if we can get to at least two thousand items this year.”

For more information on Food for Fines and other events sponsored by the Blue Ridge Regional Library, visit http://www.brrl.lib.va.us/.