Getting a parking ticket is never fun. While you may be upset about having to pay the ticket, there's now a way to pay that could leave you feeling happy instead.
Up to December 7, the Town of Strathmore will now accept toys as payment as a part of their new "Toys for Tickets" program. The toys collected will go to the Strathmore & Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society.
Mark Pretzlaff from the Town of Strathmore's Community and Protective Services explained if you choose to go this route, you have to bring a brand new toy with a receipt to prove that the toy matches or exceeds the value of the ticket. You can buy several toys to add up to the ticket cost, but you can't partially pay through a toy; the toy or toys must be equal to or greater than the ticket amount.
While it's Strathmore's first time doing this, Pretzlaff added the idea itself isn't brand new.
"There's a lot of other municipalities (that do this), whether it's Fort McMurray or Saint Albert, even Alberta Health Services offers a very similar program, but we just thought this was a way for Strathmore to give back in another way," he said.
Pretzlaff added you can still make a donation even if you don't get a parking ticket, and you can do that at the Strathmore Municipal Building.
Mayor Pat Fule thinks the program is another great way for Strathmore residents to support our community, and the chance to do that through parking tickets is a great opportunity.
"It takes an unpleasant experience, which is receiving a traffic ticket, and it turns it into a good deed. I think people will feel far better donating a new unwrapped toy as part of paying off a ticket when they know that it's going to help some of our residents, children who are struggling at Christmas. It helps them have a much better Christmas with something new and shiny for them, so it's a good deed," Fule said.
Depending how this program does, Fule said they could bring it back next year, and could even look at implementing this idea in different ways throughout the year.
"This is the door opener, this is a way to kickstart a new program and to help children in need and to help them at Christmastime, which is really important, but I think it opens the door then to doing this at other times. The food bank is always in need of food supplies and things that can help people."
While there's no metric or benchmark for determining whether this program is a success that should be brought back, Fule says it could make a big difference even if it isn't used that much.
"A new unwrapped toy helps one person, so if we get 10 toys, if we get 20, those are actual children who will benefit, and we'll have some joy on Christmas Day. It'll be interesting to see how it's received. I know Strathmore is a really giving community and I think this is an exciting, fun way to have to deal with an unpleasant ticket."
If you're interested in supporting the Strathmore & Wheatland County Christmas Hamper Society even if you don't get a ticket, you can check out their website here.
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