Libraries’ Food for Fines Effort Helps Stock Loudoun Pantry

A Loudoun librarian has found a creative way to stock the shelves of the county’s largest food pantry: waive fines for overdue books.

The Loudoun County Public Library system announced earlier this month that, for a second year in a row, it would waive $1 in late fees for each non-perishable food item donated.

During the one-week campaign from May 1-7, the library branches collected enough food for Loudoun Hunger Relief to fill 360 boxes. That weighed in at 8,900 pounds, and added up to about $8,600 worth of forgiven fines.

“Whoa, this is a miracle,” Robinson Villalobos, operations manager for Loudoun Hunger Relief in Leesburg, said when he saw the rows of boxes filled with food.

He and his team picked up the food Tuesday from the library system’s administration office in Leesburg.

The Food for Fines program is the brainchild of Lindsay Brill, a library aide at the Purcellville library branch. She was inspired to come up with a creative way to support local charities by her mother, a Loudoun County teacher. A few years ago, when a snowstorm closed schools for several days in a row, she was heartbroken to learn when schools reopened that some of her students hadn’t had anything to eat during that time.

“It just broke her heart,” Brill said. “And this was a family who lived really close to us. If we’d known, we could’ve brought food over. But we didn’t know there was a need.”

She pitched the idea of the Food for Fines program to help drum up donations for Loudoun Hunger Relief, and her bosses loved it. The campaign is strategically held in May each year, when donations to local charities are low.

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