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‘Paying’ fines, spreading joy synonymous at Clark library

As we enter the holiday season, we are often reminded there are others in our community who are less fortunate. With it being “the season of giving,” many are compelled to find ways to give back or provide a little cheer for those who struggle to make ends meet around the holidays.

Those “ends” that need to meet often revolve around deciding to buy a winter coat for a child or a turkey for family dinner on Thanksgiving. Others might have to decide if they will have gifts under the tree or food to fill their little ones’ stomachs over winter break.

It’s true, the holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, but also present many challenges and unfortunate decisions for some families.

Thankfully, there are too many organizations to name that work tirelessly to make sure local families don’t have to make these difficult decisions. One program that aims to provide specifically around Christmas is Operation Happiness.

Facilitated by Clark County Community Services, Operation Happiness provides winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves; Christmas dinner and gifts for local families.

Each year, hundreds of families are kept warm, fed and have gifts under the tree thanks to this program. All this is made possible by donations from the community.

This year, the community can support this program while also taking care of some other business.

The Clark County Public Library is allowing people to trade “fuzzies for fines,” to support Operation Happiness. Those with late fees at the library can turn in new or gently-used winter weather gear or canned food to erase fines.

The library is offering the following exchange rate for donated items:

— one can of unexpired labeled food erases $2 in fines

— one new or gently-used winter hat erases $5 in fines

— one pair of new or gently-used gloves or mittens erases $5 in fines

— one new or gently-used winter scarf erases $5 in fines

— one new or gently-used winter coat erases $20 in fines. Coats cannot be dirty or torn, and all zippers, snaps and buttons must work.

Donations in exchange for fine forgiveness will be collected throughout November and all items will be distributed to Clark County families at the Day of Giving Dec. 20.

This initiative is one that offers many opportunities for those who participate. By donating items from your home, you can rid your closets of unwanted or ill-fitting winter wear. You can get your library account in good-standing by erasing fines, meaning you and your family can have full access to all the great programming.

More importantly, we can make sure our neighbors can fully enjoy this holiday season instead of worry about where their Christmas meal or winter coat will come from.