more than words If, like me, you read a fair amount of Harlequin novels or you’ve ended up on the company’s mailing list, you’ve probably seen flyers in recent years touting Harlequin’s More than Words program and the annual anthology that goes with it. From the ad copy, I understood that Harlequin was putting out anthologies celebrating charitable work by women in their communities, but didn’t know much more than that. When I had a chance to chat about it via email with a publicist, I found out more and was very impressed by the work supported.

For the past several years, Harlequin has issued the More than Words anthology with stories based on the lives and work of the women who have won a contest through their charity program. The winners are described as women who have taken action to help those in need, and the hope is that their stories will inspire others to act. The aim of the program is “to enhance the well-being of women,” by raising awareness about causes that are of concern to women, providing money to these and engaging authors and readers in these worthy causes.

This year, five women have been chosen to receive $10,000 for their charities as well as to serve as inspiration for a novella in the More than Words anthlogy, proceeds of which will be used for further charitable work. This year’s winners are:

Nancy Abrams of the Eva’s Intiatives Family Reconnect Program – Ms. Abrams is supervisor of a program that works with homeless youth in Ontario, Canada as well as working to help broken families rebuild relationships.

Gracie Cavnar of Recipe for Success Foundation – This Foundation in Houston, Texas makes healthy meals for elementary school children and has programs to help combat childhood obesity.

Sasha Eden and Victoria Pettibone of WET’s Risk Takers Series – This program, serving teenage girls in New York City, teaches media literacy and leadership skills.

Valerie Sobel of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation – This foundation, created as a tribute to Ms. Sobel’s son, provides financial assistance to single caregivers of children with life-threatening illness so that they can care for their children full-time.

Karen Thompson of Literature for All of Us – Since 1997, this organization in the Chicago area has weekly book groups reaching out to the community with reading, writing and discussion.

And the 2009 winners are:

Katharine Chon of Polaris Project – Based in Washington DC, Polaris Project works to combat human trafficking, and to offer support to victims.

Rhonda Clemons of Zoe Institute – Founded by a single mother after the death of her husband, the Zoe Institute is a faith-based agency supporting single mothers.

Barbara Huston of Partners in Care Maryland – A resource for elderly people and their families, Partners in Care helps the elderly remain in their homes as long as possible.

Roni Lomeli of Shoes that Fit – Shoes that Fit provides new shoes for schoolchildren who otherwise wouldn’t have them.

Lara Tavares of Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization – Based in Ontario, Sky’s the Limit has set out to eliminate the digital divide for Canadian children by providing computers to underserved communities.

These are all wonderful causes and the 2009 winners are the inspiration for novellas this year by Joan Johnston, Robyn Carr, Christina Skye, Rochelle Alers, and Maureen Child. The More then Words book will go on sale on April 1, 2010, but we have 2 copies to give away to readers. To enter, simply comment below with one of your favorite charitable causes. The contest will be open from now until 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Please note that, at the request of the donor, this contest is open to the United States and Canada only.

– Lynn Spencer