Jake Giusto / Mustang News

With finals on the brain and not much room for anything else, library overdue fees seem to creep up on students. However, this quarter Robert E. Kennedy Library and the Take 5 committee are collaborating with Health and Well Being to help reduce fiscal stress by collecting toiletries in lieu of library fines. Take 5 is an outreach program in Kennedy Library that facilitates positive and stress-relieving events and activities.

If students have outstanding fines, they may bring in toiletries to pay them until March 24. Each item they bring in equals ten dollars of fines. However, this does not apply for broken or lost items. The toiletries collected will then be donated to the food pantry, a resource on campus for students with food insecurity or financial trouble.

“So let’s say you have $15 overdue fines on your library card, then you bring in a shampoo and a toothpaste, then we will waive the fines for you,” Director of the Take 5 committee Conny Liegl said.

According to Cheryl May, director of access, operations and administrative services for Kennedy Library, overdue fines are classified as category four fees, meaning that the money does not go towards the library directly. Therefore, the library management team was on board to experiment with the toiletry drive.

“The goal of the collaboration as a whole is to offer an opportunity for students to give back to the campus, but not have to give cash money for a library fine, and if they don’t pay their fines there could be a hold on their account,” Director of Health and Wellbeing Genie Kim said. “ So the ultimate goal was to reduce any barriers with students receiving holds on their accounts that might mitigate their success at Cal Poly.”

Several other libraries have made the shift to donations as a form of payment. Liegl is grateful for the opportunity to do so. Not only does this incentive lessen the cost of outstanding fines, but it also serves as a way for students to help their peers.

Kim said the food pantry is fortunate enough to have a consistent donor for food and produce However, toiletries are often in high demand and short supply, which is why the library requests toiletries and not canned goods.

“[The food pantry has] different types of things that students need, anything and everything a student would need if they might be experiencing food insecurity,” Kim said. “And along the same lines, we have a separate shelf for toiletries.”

Recommended donations include shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes and any other hygiene product that is important for self care and health necessities. Both Kim and Liegl said if students are unsure of what to donate, the food pantry is always in need of feminine hygiene products.

“Feminine hygiene products can be really expensive … If you don’t have money to be able to buy feminine hygiene products as a female, what are you supposed to do?” Kim said.

With Kennedy Library’s assistance, Health and Wellbeing and the food pantry are able to reach out to more students.

“I think it has really two outlets, first of all it’s going to bring a lot of awareness for the food pantry,” Liegl said. “Also I think it makes people feel good to do something good and know that the toiletries you give benefit your fellow students.”

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