Anna DeStefano, award-winning, bestselling author, wants you to be able to give a Valentine to your community by participating in her nationwide Hearts for Hearts Book Donation Program. DeStefano is proving to be even more than her public expects by taking on this charitable organizer role.
Anna sits at her computer most days, writing a skillful blend of deeply emotional romance and women’s fiction books for Amazon’s Montlake imprint. Her newest release is Love on Mimosa Lane. However, the Georgia author has diversified and rolled out her Hearts for Hearts Book Donation Initiative.
Now her heart was set on seeing 1,000 new and gently read book donation to homeless shelters, Medicaid nursing facilities, correctional facilities and similar centers across our country by the end of 2013. This kind author was stunned by the outpouring of excitement and participation in her newly developed program. Once announced, the program far exceeded the initial annual goal!
Now, as 2014 stretches into the season of love, the bestselling author is determined to reach even higher with her charitable goals. Her new focus: 50,000 books donated by the end of this year! To achieve this ambitious milestone, Anna is issuing a call to action to readers everywhere to share the best Valentine’s present possible—the gift of story—with those in their communities who need it the most, but can least afford it.
Asked about the inspiration for Hearts for Hearts, Anna said, “In 2005, volunteering with the Salvation Army, I reached out locally to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, who made their way to aid centers in my northeast Atlanta suburb. 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. 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.”
Once the inspiration struck and realizing that many people in the United States have books just sitting around their homes that contain stories that could enrich other less fortunate people’s lives, the author posed a question: “What if each of us donated a small portion of our personal library to a facility that assists those who have very little of anything to call their own?”
Then she, her husband and her son took to gathering books from their own collections and DeStafano headed off to donate the books to Hope United, a ministry-based service project event for a Georgia-based mobile home park and to seniors’ and children’s libraries at her local YMCA.
Anna’s desire to help others with her Hearts for Hearts Initiative and to be involved in the local community echoes themes addressed in her bestselling Seasons of the Heart series. In Love on Mimosa Lane (February 2014), the fictional town of Chandlerville comes together in a stirring love story to help a foster child and a family in crisis. This candid yet poignant look at the complexities of divorce, substance abuse, and our country's foster care system is a love song to an entire community. The novel celebrates the power of family—the family you've been given, the one you've chosen, and the one that can lift you up, even when the world is tearing you down.
Determined to share her excitement with others, Anna has given Hearts for Hearts a major presence on her website and Facebook author page—and hired a personal assistant to rev up those donation engines.
“Everyone who hears about Hearts for Hearts gets excited about the opportunity to make a difference in their communities,” Anna shared. “Numerous authors, readers, an attorney in Dallas and two independent publishing companies are organizing their donations, and we’ve only been at this a month!”
Anna invites participants to share on her Facebook page their feel-good donation stories. On her website, Anna provides guidelines for making the donations, the most important being to call community organizations before dropping by, to determine what kinds of books will best serve each center’s needs.
So this holiday, while readers are stocking up on candy and flowers for their sweethearts, Anna hopes they will invite local assistance groups to “be their Valentines,” too, by gifting these vital programs with books and stories that will live on in the hearts of those who read them.