Getting a parking ticket is the absolute worst. Giving your hard-earned money to your local municipal office is pretty painful, especially when you know it was for something as silly as a parking goof. What if there were a way to make paying parking tickets less painful? What if paying your parking ticket was helping out your community and your neighbors? In Las Vegas, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Food For Fines
The city of Las Vegas came up with a clever way to handle parking tickets that benefits the disadvantaged in their community. For the month of October, people could pay off their parking tickets with a perishable food donation instead of cold hard cash or credit. The catch? The food donation had to add up to the same amount as the parking ticket. Depending on the amount of the ticket, that could be a lot of food.
The food for fines program applied to tickets issued from October 16th to November 16th. Not all parking tickets were eligible for the program. Tickets for safety-related violations still had to pay the fine. But all regular parking tickets were eligible to be paid with food donations. The donations had to be turned in within 30 days of receiving the ticket.
They’re still collecting donations for parking tickets issued in November through December 16th. The Las Vegas police said that they would be using the donations to help out people who need a good meal during the holiday season. The food collected as a substitute payment for parking ticket fines was donated to Helping Hands of Vegas Valley. This nonprofit organization helps out disabled and low-income senior citizens.
Other Donations Instead Of Fines
The food for fines program isn’t the first time Las Vegas police have used parking ticket fines as a way to collect donations for the less fortunate in the Las Vegas area. They’ve actually been running similar programs since 2016. Every so often, the Las Vegas City Council votes on proposals that would allow people to pay off parking tickets with certain kinds of donations. These donations are then given to nonprofit organizations so they can be distributed to the people that need them the most.
In July of this year, the donations for parking tickets program had a back to school twist. Parking tickets could be paid by donating school supplies. Anyone who had a regular parking ticket during the month of July could donate unwrapped school supplies instead of paying their fine. Like with the food for fines program, the amount of the donation had to be of equal or greater value than the parking ticket. That adds up to a lot of school supplies!
All the school supplies collected as part of this program were donated to Teachers Exchange. This nonprofit is associated with the Public Education Foundation. They help stock classrooms with school supplies so that teachers don’t have to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets.
A Nationwide Trend?
Las Vegas isn’t the only place in the country that’s decided to use parking ticket fines as a way to raise donations for the community. Several other cities and towns have adopted similar programs. Las Vegas wasn’t the first city to think of the idea, either. Lexington, Kentucky has had a similar program since 2013.
Paying off parking tickets with donations seems to be a particularly popular tactic on college campuses. Several universities throughout the country, including the University of Alaska, University of Colorado Boulder, Bloomsburg University, and Northern Michigan University, allow students to pay off their on-campus parking tickets with food donations.
Hopefully, this idea will catch on nationwide. It’s a great way for people to give back to their communities!
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