This holiday season, nationally bestselling author Anna DeStefano challenges caring readers nationwide to donate new and gently read books to homeless shelters, Medicaid nursing facilities and similar centers across the country in her just-launched Hearts for Hearts initiative. The Georgia author’s goal is to create a national movement to share the healing power of story with those who need it most but can often afford it the least.
“So many of us have books sitting around our homes, stories we’ve enjoyed that others would love to experience—only they can’t afford the luxury,” says the award-winning author, who writes a skillful blend of deeply emotional romance and women’s fiction for Amazon’s Montlake imprint. “What if each of us donated a small portion of our personal library to a facility that serves those who have very little of anything to call their own? With a little time and a generous heart, one-by-one this holiday we could share something dear to us and ultimately make a difference in someone’s life.”
Anna’s Hearts for Hearts initiative was inspired by Christmas on Mimosa Lane, the launch book in her bestselling Seasons of the Heart series. In this holiday story, elementary school nurse Mallory Phillips discovers an emotionally fragile child standing before her Christmas tree in her Chandlerville, Georgia home. This is seven-year-old Polly Lombard’s first Christmas without her mother, and she won’t utter a word to anyone—until she meets Mallory. Polly’s longing for holidays past revives Mallory’s own memories of a troubled childhood, struggling to survive on the streets with her bipolar mother. While helping Polly and her grieving EMT firefighter father, Mallory loses her heart to this special family. But is she strong enough to keep the Lombards in her life forever? Can the spirit of Christmas bring them all the joyous, loving future they deserve?
DeStefano has witnessed firsthand the impact that the donation of personal items like books can make on those in desperate straits.
“In 2005, volunteering with the Salvation Army, I worked locally with Hurricane Katrina evacuees who’d made their way to aid centers in my northeast Atlanta suburb,” DeStefano said. “These displaced families left their homes and lives behind with virtually nothing. And while financial, housing, and basic subsistence needs were being met by the professionals around me, I witnessed something magical happen each time I put a donated item like a book into the hands of people who no longer owned anything more than what they could carry away from New Orleans. The grateful smiles inspired by such simple gifts were breathtaking to me.
“My Katrina aid experience taught me that even if you have no money to donate, and even if your personal time is stretched to the limits and you can’t volunteer, you can still make a difference.”
Speaking about her Hearts for Hearts initiative, DeStefano said, “The prospect of giving away something we already own, just a few of the stories we hold so dear to our hearts, to bring comfort and hope and a few moments of escape to someone else is exciting. And what better time than the holidays to begin donating books to our local assistance communities? My husband and I have already pledged to deplete our personal libraries, if we can find enough centers to take it all!”
Determined to spread the call to action, Anna is giving Hearts for Hearts a major presence on her website and Facebook author page, where she invites readers to check in with their feel-good stories after donating books within their communities. Anna provides guidelines for making the donations, the most important being to call community centers before dropping by, to determine what kinds of stories will best serve each center’s needs.
“Since Hearts for Hearts is in its infancy, my initial goal is that 1,000 books will be donated by Christmas,” Anna says, admitting she hopes to expand the program to a year-round basis. “But with the support I’m already receiving from readers, Internet sites and publishers, the final tally of books donated could reach into the tens of thousands. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we saw at least one donation in each of the fifty states by year’s end?”
To learn how to gift books to a center in your community or to alert Anna to your donation, visit www.Annawrites.com.