BROOKSVILLE — Tucked into the corner of Mary Soto's office at the main branch of the Hernando Public Library is a small but growing pile of new toys: Hot Wheels racing cars, a periwinkle Beanie Baby, and Rapunzel and her golden tresses, all waiting for a child to make them real.
The presents are part of a new program, the Giving Tree @ Your Library, in which each of the four county branches turns regular Christmas trees into "giving trees.''
The program offers the chance to give a little bit, even for those who might not have much to donate, said library services manager Adam Brooks.
"I was inspired," said programming specialist Mary GaNun, thinking back to when Brooks first mentioned the idea. "I thought, what a wonderful way to give back to the community."
Bookmarks hang from the trees with details about what each branch is collecting, although donations can be made at any branch. Each of the four libraries chose a local organization in need of support.
The main library in downtown Brooksville is collecting new and unwrapped toys for the Mid Florida Community Services Head Start Program, a federally funded program that serves preschoolers and children with disabilities. Their wish list includes toys that encourage imaginative play such as tea sets, teddy bears, race cars, dolls and stuffed animals.
The East Hernando Branch Library is accepting new, unwrapped board games appropriate for elementary age students. Games such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Monopoly will be distributed through their Title I program to encourage literacy and family involvement.
The West Hernando Branch Library is collecting donations for the Dawn Center, a nonprofit group that provides shelter and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The center needs nonperishable food items, health and beauty products, towels, medium sized T-shirts and gift cards.
And the Spring Hill Branch Library is collecting Purina Cat, Kitten or Puppy Chow, Pedigree Adult dog food, cat litter and chew toys. All pet-related donations will be distributed to the Humane Society of the Nature Coast.
Donations for the Giving Tree program are being accepted until Saturday.
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.