I live in the arctic tundra… I mean, in the balmy Deep South. In the last three weeks, we’ve had more snow and ice than we have in the last ten years–COMBINED. No one hundreds of miles of us has been able to leave their house for days this time around, let alone shop for their sweethearts.
Looking for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for the book-lover in your life? Why not pay that gift forward to your community?
Romance novelist Anna DeStefano’s Hearts for Hearts initiative “to give back to their communities by donating books they already own to nearby assistance groups” such as “homeless shelters, Medicaid nursing facilities, or similar centers.”
There’s a lot of “Holy Valentine’s Day Interruptus Batman” going on around all over the place today. But what if Valentine’s weren’t about a single day? What if sharing love and inspiration and relaxation and escape were an everyday thing?
That’s what we want Hearts for Hearts to be. It’s a call to look closer at the community around you and find a way to help (the way the characters in my not-so-light-and-fluffy romance novels do). In my stories, there are always happy endings. But my characters and readers work harder than in a lot of other novels for their bright and shiny endings. The deeper emotions I hope their challenges stir ring truer to life, at least to me, and that makes the victories I live to write for these hard-working characters even more fulfilling.
So, yes, I write candy, hearts and flowers stories. Sort of. And I live in a candy, hearts and flowers neighborhood. Sort of.
But just a mile or so from me, there are pockets of need that I’ve been able to serve–by doing nothing more than giving away books. Books I’ve written, books I’ve read and loved, books my friends have been thrilled to share, too. My friends and I have personally given story (romance, fantasy, mystery, young adult, inspiration, non-fiction, you name it) to families living below the poverty level, foster care facilities, nursing homes, and even our local YMCA, where Hearts for Hearts has seeded new children and adult libraries for their members, many of whom join via scholarship.
What does a different kind of Valentine’s Day and paying it forward with story look like? After my initial Hearts for Hearts donation of a few hundred books to my YMCA, and my challenge to open libraries where books could be taken and donated without having to check them out (because so many of our members don’t have the ability the buy their own books and would want to take them home, and that’s EXACTLY what we want them to do) THIS is what the community “book drive” looked in January…
And the donations just keep pouring in….
And the library isn’t due to open until March! Read the rest of this entry »