Food For Fines: Donations pay overdue fees, given to hungry

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Shown here is what staff at Portage Lake District Library hope will be the first of many boxes to be filled with donated food during its Food For Fines drive which lasts through March.

HOUGHTON — For more than a decade, the Portage Lake District Library has allowed patrons to pay fines with food donations.

“What we do is we allow patrons to pay up to $10 of their overdue fines with canned goods or other non-perishable food items,” said director Dillon Geshel. “Usually we just ask that they bring goods in that are comparable to the amount they might owe in fines… It’s kind of in good faith.”

The policy continues until March 31, with the donated food going to the Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

The food must not expire before August, Geshel explained.

“It takes a while for us to collect the donations, get them to the pantries, get them on the shelves. So we want to make sure they don’t expire before that happens,” Geshel said.

Patrons also have the option of simply writing a check donating to the organizations to void their fines.

“We find that most people will just pay all of their fines and sometimes more just to be able to donate to the cause,” Geshel said.

Last year the library raised $360 just in the cash donations and hope more will donate this year.

Even without fines to pay, donations are welcome.

The library holds this drive early every year to continue the giving of the holidays.

“We see a lot of food drives going on, so we keep it going by posting ours a little bit later,” Geshel said.