It always warms my heart to hear of authors taking up charitable causes. Recently I heard of Anna DeStanfano’s Hearts for Hearts program and I talked with her about it.
BV: What is Hearts for Hearts?
AD: Hearts for Hearts is the realization of a dream of mine—to inspire myself and others to reach out into our communities and make a difference in our own back yards. I’m a writer. I spend a lot of time working alone and talking online with other writers and readers. But I love and write about community and what it really means to me: loving your friends and neighbors, sharing their ups and downs, and being part of their lives, especially when the road gets rocky. Being there, showing up in a crisis or when there’s a need, that’s everything.
In short, Hearts for Hearts challenges participants to give books they already own to assistance groups and others in their communities—recipients who can’t afford to purchase books of their own. Even if you have very little time and money—even if you have only a few books to give—you can participate in this exciting program.
BV: Why did you start this particular program?
Authors Sandra Elzie and Debbie Kaufman unload books and homemade cookies to Georgia based mobile home park
AD: I was talking with Nancy Berland, my publicist, about my past and what inspires me to write the emotional things I do and how I’m hoping to see readers encouraged by my characters’ challenging journeys and happily-ever-after endings, to pay the experience forward to people in their families and community. That’s when Nancy said, “I had a thought last night. Have you ever considered …”
Fast forward a few months, and Hearts for Hearts has become this amazing way for
people to reach out and brighten the lives of others—building community, one story at a
BV: How are groups chosen?
Local hair salon offers free haircuts for the needy at the same event
AD: We’re asking readers to choose who to donate to. What’s important to your community— that’s where you can make the most difference. There’s a list of helpful tips on the Hearts for Hearts program page on my website. Some examples of donations already made and ideas for you include:
• Participating in a holiday party thrown by a local business in my area (my hair salon donated cuts to the residents of a mobile home park near us, and I brought along home-baked cookies and books donated be me and author friends).
• Donating books to a community center for foster kids (several YA author friends are helping me do that this holiday!).
• Taking books to facilities for the homeless, sober living, seniors, veterans, battered women, etc.
• Contacting your YMCA for ideas, which I’ve done, and my family and friends and I will now be helping seed senior and children’s libraries there for members, many of whom live on fixed incomes.
BV: Who can get involved and how?
AD: That’s the beauty of this! Anyone who loves to read and has books to share can make a difference. All the info you’ll need can be found here. And we’d LOVE to hear about your ideas and donations (and share your pictures!) through my Anna DeStefano Author Facebook page.
BV: What are your goals for the Hearts for Hearts program?
AD: The sky’s the limit for how far we can take the program. It’s really up to readers and fans, how long we keep this going. But to start, we’re challenging ourselves to have 1,000 books donated by Christmas, and we’re already well on our way. Wouldn’t it be great if by the end of the year we achieved a Hearts for Hearts book donation project in all fifty states?
I know many other authors do a lot of charitable things. Please feel free to list your charity in the comments. I encourage everyone to find something they believe in that can help others and support it.
Bottom Line: Giving back is something we should all think about throughout the year and not only in the holiday season.